In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.
Ben and Leslie Cash live largely off the grid with their offspring -- Bodevan, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja and Nai -- in a cabin in the mountains of Washington state. The parents have passed their socialist and survivalist ideals to their children. Ben considers most of Western society to be fascist, especially corporate America. He also believes that no one will or should be there for you, so you'd better learn how to take care of yourself. As such, the children have been subject to vigorous physical training; know how to deal with minor bumps, bruises, cuts, sprains, and even fractures; and know how to hunt, forage, and grow their own food. The children are also non-registered home schooled, meaning that they have no official academic records. Ben and Leslie have tried to make the children critical thinkers, however, within the context of their ideals. Beyond these issues, Ben and Leslie made the decision to live this lifestyle for Leslie's health. Formerly an attorney, Leslie was...Written by
Matt Ross said a member of the team contacted Noam Chomsky to clear his quotes for use in the film. "The way he responded was indicative of the human being that he is, no lawyers, just 'please quote me correctly.'" See more »
When the family visit Leslie's grave, there is already a tombstone in situ. In reality, a tombstone is usually not carved and erected until months after a burial. See more »
[family gathers around the slain deer]
Today, the boy is dead. And in his place... is a man.
[rips off a bloody bite of the offered morsel]
See more »
"Captain Fantastic" (2016 release; 119 min.) brings the story of Ben and his 6 kids. As the movie opens, we are looking onto the breath-taking landscapes of western Washington. The camera then zooms in on a deer, and before we know it, the deer is killed by a brutal knifing (with audible gasps in the theater audience). It turns out to be Ben's oldest son. Ben exclaims proudly "today a boy is dead, in his place is a man!". We get to know Ben and the 6 kids, ranging from 17 to about 7 or 8 in age, as they live completely off the grid. As we wonder "where is Ben's wife/the mom?", we learn that Leslie is in the hospital due to bipolar disorder. One day Ben drives into town to call the hospital to see how Leslie is doing... At this point we're not event 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the second feature length from actor/writer/director Matt Ross, who previously directed the under the radar "28 Hotel Rooms". Here he brings something completely different, and a social experiment at that: what if you raise a family completely off the grid, in a utopian but clear anti-capitalistic setting, without any interaction with the "real" world, and what would happen if at one point those children are forced to confront the "real" world. Fascinating idea, and one that Ross examines quite nicely. The movie excels even more due to the performance of Viggo Mortensen, which is out of this world, but truth be told: the six kids are quite outstanding as well. The movie is pretty much perfect for the first 90 min., but then struggles to come to a reasonable conclusion, regretfully. There is also an outstanding score for this movie, courtesy of Alex Somers and performed by Somers and Jonsi (of Sigur Ros). Apart from the score, there are a number of other good song placements throughout the movie (but not Elton John's "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy", if you were wondering). Can't wait to check out the soundtrack.
"Captain Fantastic" won Matt Ross the best director award in the "Un Certain Regard" showing at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The movie finally opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati and I couldn't wait to see it. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely, I am happy to say. It seems that, other than the gasps in the opening scene of the movie, the audience really enjoyed the movie. I know I did. If you are interested in a very solid family drama with a unique social experiment, you cannot go wrong with this, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Captain Fantastic" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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