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Captain Fantastic

Viggo Mortensen plays Ben, a father of 6 kids who live and have been raised their entire lives in the wilderness with minimal connection to current culture. The kids are all home schooled and learn wilderness survival skills as part of their curriculum. When their mom dies, the family makes a road trip to the funeral and confronts head-on the culture Ben has tried to avoid. I found a lot to like about it – it is a solid movie about the power of family; the acting performances are solid, especially by Mortensen; and the film does provide some commentary on contemporary culture and one family’s alternative. There are places where the movie doesn’t work as well – the various plot lines are rather shallow and sometimes kind of “drop off” (the one main one is about the tension between whether Ben is helping or harming his children), and sometimes the choice of scenes is strange (there is one scene with Mortensen that left me asking, “why”?). The kids are all ridiculously intelligent, which seemed a bit much. But I in give it a thumbs up, as I found it to be a moving story, and the family is quite endearing. I am glad I saw it. (2016; 3.5 stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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