Authenticity is a trait many films strive for but few achieve, and Captain Fantastic is a marvelous example of what happens when actors and creators can share a collective vision. A film like this relies on each component to be perfect, and for the film’s bluntness and sweetness to be fairly balanced, and writer/ director Matt Ross crafts a beautiful ensemble enabled by an excellent cast. The film has moments of pure wonder, anguish, fear, and humor, all of which feel earned due to the development of the film’s relationships.
Ben (Viggo Mortnesen) is in paradise, living in isolation from the world with his six children, teaching them practical skills and to bind as a family unit. After his wife succumbs to a deadly illness, Ben takes his children on a road trip to see the world, exposing them to a much different life than they’ve ever known. Mortensen is tremendous here; stern, yet compassionate, and nuanced in his emotion and humor. There is no words to describe how great the ensemble is, as the brilliant young cast breathe life and realism to such young characters is virtually rare for such an inexperienced group of performers.
There are moments in Captain Fantastic, montages in which the characters don’t speak. The reason they don’t speak is because they don’t have to; these characters are so well realized that the audience can connect and emote with them without having their emotions blatantly spoken. The beauty in the film is that it understands that emotion is a consequence of interest, and our connection with characters only grows our ability to be moved by them. Grade: -A