by Martin Dunlop
Captain Fantastic tells the story of a survivalist family living out in the wilderness being forced out of hiding when their sick mother dies in hospital. The family is a bunch of wacky fringe kooks led by patriarch Viggo Mortensen and being dragged into the outside world to attend their mother’s funeral causes them to confront the possibility that living in isolation may not be the healthiest thing to do.
Directed by first-timer Matt Ross in a dreamy indie aesthetic that’s a little too familiar at this point, Captain Fantastic does provide a series of great performances from its cast, even when the story fails to make much of an impact. Mortensen plays both the fading anarchist and devoted father aspects of his character with equal dedication, and the kids are good, particularly the eldest, George MacKay, but there’s a few too many of them and some get lost in the shuffle.
Frank Langella plays the dead mother’s father with equal shades of concern and repressed anger, so he’s more than just the fun-killing villain of the piece, but unfortunately his character is another in a long line of obscenely rich figures in modern movies, with a giant New Mexico mansion where just… like, a house, would do.
Reasonably competent, and there are some fine scenes, but ultimately the film seems to have far more affection for the freaky alternative lifestyle of the family than I can imagine the audience will.
Captain Fantastic is out now.