Actor Viggo Mortensen is known for his work in the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, but he gives one of his best performances in a new film called CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. (Unfortunately, I just learned that the film is no longer showing on Oahu.)
Ben: What we created here may be unique in all human existence. All the way to the top. We created a paradise.
In spite of its title, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is not a super hero movie. It’s a thought provoking comedy-drama starring Viggo Mortensen as Ben, a radical who raises his six kids in the wilderness of Washington state. He wants them to become philosopher kings with the skills to survive on their own in the forest.
They read everything from Dostoevsky to Noam Chomsky. They study martial arts and are happy to get hunting knives as gifts.
But when their mother dies in a hospital far away, they must leave their little sanctuary to see her family and attend her funeral. Much of the comedy comes with how unfamiliar they are with the world most of us live in.
One child: What’s cola?
Ben: Poison water
Another child: What’s wrong with everyone? Are they sick?
Ben: What do you mean?
Child: Everyone’s so fat. Fat like hippos.
Small girl: How did you kill those chickens, with an ax or a knife?
But Ben has serious conflicts with Frank Langella as Jack, his father-in-law, who takes a dim view of Ben’s parenting philosophy.
Jack: How did Rellian break his hand?
Ben: He fell, and it’s not broken.
Jack: He was climbing on a rock face in the rain.
Ben: It was an accident and it wasn’t raining when we were climbing.
Jack: He has bruises all over his body.
Ben: Yeah and scratches. We all have them.
Jack: It’s child abuse. Even if they make it through whatever it is you’re doing to them, they’re going to be totally unprepared for the real world.
Ben: And I happened to think the opposite is true.
The truth is probably somewhere in between, but even Ben can see how unprepared his oldest boy is for dealing with the opposite sex.
Girl in a store doorway to Ben: Are you coming in?…(Ben just stands there not knowing what to do.) No? OK, bye.
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is about a fierce idealist who slowly comes to realize that his kids need some things that he hasn’t given them. The ending of the film isn’t as strong as the earlier parts, but CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is far better than most of the movies out there right now.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org