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Film Review: Captain Fantastic (2016)

We have a new author - please welcome Ben to the team! Ben resides in one of our accommodation models and has been with us for about 7 months. This is one of his debut articles for ACP, and he will be focusing on reviewing films and local cafes, as well as dabbling in some poetry. Happy reading!


With the cinemas closed and all this enforced isolation, my housemate and I have taken it as a perfect time to revisit some classic movies on SBS on Demand, which offers a veritable treasure trove of carefully curated movie gems, from cult classics and foreign language to homegrown films and American Indie.

Amongst the latter is a quiet indie film from 2016 called Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen as an eccentric survivalist living and raising his six kids off-grid in the majestic pine-covered wilderness of Washington State.

The family live a life in tune with nature as they hunt and grow their own food whilst spending their time refining their bodies and minds equally, through the father’s rigorous outdoor training and advanced homeschooling curriculum; their nights spent together reading around the campfire, replete with riotous outbursts of music and dancing.

When tragedy strikes they set off back to civilisation on the family bus- affectionately named Steve- and back to the very culture they have all studiously avoided. What follows is a culture clash equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking.

Viggo Mortensen- a noted survivalist and polymath himself- is in his element here and is wonderful to watch.

The acting as a whole is impeccable, and the whole ensemble put in some incredible work, running the whole gamut of subtle emotions with consummate skill belying their young ages. The cinematography is also notable, full of a vivid colour palette and an abundance of vibrant natural light. It’s helped by the spectacular scenery and the ever-curious outfits of the eccentric family.

It is especially impressive as it is only the director Matt Ross' sophomore outing, after his debut in 2012 with the micro-budget romance 28 Hotel Rooms, and we should expect exciting things from him in the future. The film also offers an achingly beautiful soundtrack, composed and performed by Sigur Ros frontman, Jonsi, and his partner, Alex, that delicately punctuates and underscores the film’s moments.

All in all, Captain Fantastic offers a wondrous celebration of authenticity, eccentricity, family and, life itself; it is a beautiful and unique movie gem that simply must be seen.


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