Viggo Mortensen shines in this Indie film about a father raising his family off of the land and away from society. This story has plenty of great humor, outlandish adventure, and thought-provoking questions wrapped up in what I can only imagine is every hippie’s dreamworld.
A Very Smart Film That Holds a Mirror Towards Our Society
You don’t have to talk long with me to know that I’m not overly fond of where our society stands right now. So, when this film showed me what life might be like if you removed yourself from all of the useless garbage that surrounds our everyday life, it makes you wonder if that could actually work! Would we be better off without all the technology, media, and political hullabaloo? Maybe we don’t need to go full blown hippie to do so, but I believe we would! This film explores that notion in a very extreme way, what with all the philosophies that family believes, their rigorous physical training, and their extensive studying of advanced subjects. That’s where things start to dip into a grey area within the story, which I really appreciated about this film. Is what Ben (Viggo Mortensen) doing to his children to extreme? Is this what we need to do advance past the stupidity that engulfs our culture now? Or is there a healthy in-between? You definitely don’t have to agree with all of their philosophies (Lord knows I don’t), but I would be surprised if you didn’t flip flop sides of whether Ben is doing a good thing here a few times throughout this movie.
Explores the Hard Topics
Much like the lead character, Ben, this movie is not afraid to talk about subjects that most people may be uncomfortable talking about others. Topics like what may or may not be acceptable to talk about with young kids, how productive our school system is, where you draw the line between stern parenting and child abuse. This is kind of similar to my first point, but again, this movie really makes you think about these things in a different way.
Viggo Mortensen is (Captain) Fantastic!
I have been a huge fan of Viggo’s ever since he was in Lord of the Rings, and that still hasn’t changed after seeing this film. The guy is vastly over-looked as an actor and that’s a huge shame! He is one of the most talented artists in the business and an incredible character actor. I have yet to see a poor performance from this man. He needs to be in more films! Viggo leads the show here and gives a very provoking performance in this movie. I think this is exactly the kind of role that he flourishes in, and I’m so glad he got a nomination!
A Little too Hipster for Me
If the picture above isn’t a perfect sign of what I’m talking about, then I’m not quite sure what is. This isn’t a huge negative for me, but it was there just enough to make me curve my brow and question what I’m watching every now and then. It definitely has that Indie/Sundance-lure vibe to it throughout and can come across as a little pretentious and self-congratulatory at times. However, by the third act of the movie this feeling begins to dissipate as the film tries to sway our opinions on Ben’s actions. So, again, not a huge negative, but it can get a little bothersome.
- Viggo Mortensen continues to exercise his incredible acting prowess in a role that he fits so perfectly in.
- Every one of the actors that play each of Ben’s kids are outstanding, especially George MacKay, whom plays the eldest son.
- Matt Ross really takes on quite the journey here and delivers a few really strong, emotional moments in this film.
- There are a lot of thought provoking questions present here that really make you think as you’re watching.
- The hipster vibe is definitely present and it can be a little annoying.
- Very convincing and interesting set designs, especially the family’s camp in the wilderness.
- Costume design really plays into the hipster thing that can get to be a little much.
- This story really makes you swap your opinions of Ben’s methods a few times.
- Plenty of fun is poked at how stupid and unhealthy our culture is.
- Gets very philosophical and opinionated at times, which is where the pretentiousness stems from.
- Ending scene involving the mother is a little cringeworthy.
- Very etherial and trancelike score that works well with the film’s tone.
- Again, it does suffer from that overly hippie atmosphere that is slowly becoming cliché for Indie/Sundance films.
- This film has an abundance of witty and charming humor.
- It opens your mind up to new viewpoints on certain subjects, as well as how those views affect the people around them.
- I really enjoy how this film makes me think twice about whether Ben’s actions are really helping his kids or hurting them.