This is a wonderful film. I don’t know how Matt Ross got this film made, even anchoring it with an actor like Viggo Mortensen, it had to be difficult. Mortensen is the patriarch of a gaggle of children who he and his late wife raised in the wilderness of Washington. They all know how to hunt, make a tourniquet, and speak a plethora of languages from Japanese to German. His wife, who suffered from a mental illness killed herself and in turn, Mortensen packs all his children up into his Ken Kesey-esque bus and they travel to Nevada to stop her from being buried so they can cremate her and flush her ashes down the toilet like she wanted.
The film asks and answers an elusive question. How much reality would one sacrifice to raise his children in such a noble yet unrealistic manner? What he and his wife set out to do is remarkable – raise children away from the dangers and structure of society, is very admirable, but all the virtues of their upbringing yield an unrealistic member of society.
Viggo Mortensen certainly does deserve his Academy Award nomination for Best Actor this year. He is terrific. This might even be his finest performance, but that’s such a tough call to make considering his wonderful canon of brilliant performances. Most of his character is told through his body language, which for Mortensen seems natural and organic, not as if an actor is acting.
The film, also written by Matt Ross, is so unique it is refreshing. We don’t really see too many films like this anymore; an adult drama with humor and heart that roots an emotional connection through its taut narrative very early on in the picture. Frank Langella shows up in the third act; watching Mortensen and Langella matched up is why a lot of us love movies. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC isn’t a perfect film, but its originality truly is awesome.