12/10/18

Captain Fantastic

This R-rated drama begins with a primitive hunting scene. A deer, alerted by something, is being hunted with bows and arrows; the hunters seem to be children and sure enough, not only are they children, but they field dress it where it lays. Field dressing consists of disemboweling the animal to allow it to cool more rapidly so the meat doesn't spoil. They eat what they kill and they only kill what they eat. Yep. It's bloody.

Writer/director Matt Ross ("28 Hotel Rooms") takes us to the deep woods and introduces us to a man and his six children in a primitive dwelling. It's instantly clear that he doesn't cut them any slack. Their schooling and physical training are rigorous and the children seem to be flourishing.

Part of this highly capable cast:
  • Viggo Mortensen ("Green Book") nominated for numerous awards for this role, is the father, Ben. He is shaken by the news of his wife's death and is convinced their children deserve the opportunity to fulfill her last will and testament. His in-laws do not agree. 
  • George MacKay ("The True History of the Kelly Gang") Bodevan is the eldest. His wrenching scene makes it clear to us how na├»ve these children are and how unschooled they are in the ways of the world. 
  • Samantha Isler ("Molly's Game") Kielyr is hovering on the brink of womanhood but she looks out for her other siblings and can wield a hunting knife with the best. 
  • Annalise Bosso ("Electric Dreams") Vespyr is serious and concerned, both for her father and her little brood of brothers and sisters.  By now you have noticed that these children were named by a mother who wanted them to be individuals.
  • Nicholas Hamilton (The Dark Tower") Rellian is the rebel, dissatisfied with survival in the woods and yearning for a more ordinary life. Grandpa and Grandma's wealth is appealing. 
  • Shree Crooks ("The Glass Castle") Zaja doesn't view Civics as just a bunch of documents. Listen to her expound on the Bill of Rights. 
  • Charlie Shotwell ("Man Down") Nai reads and writes, like the rest of his home-schooled gang; the world looks fine to this little guy! 
  • Frank Langella ("The Americans") Jack is convinced that Ben killed his daughter, he refuses to believe in mental illness.
  • Ann Dowd ("The Handmaid's Tale") Abigail just wants to be able to see her grandchildren, now that her daughter is gone.
There are others but my list has grown too long. I was not exaggerating when I called this a highly capable cast. Every scene is impressive. But be advised. This is R-rated for good reason, expect full-frontal male nudity (Zaja says, "Clothes at the table, Dad!"), sophisticated humor, blood and gore. In addition, it has moments of delight; events in which we take great satisfaction with the children and their upbringing; plus we appreciate Ben's anguish over his wife's death.

Personally I had some reservations about the veracity of that primitive lifestyle, but I'm known to be very very picky.
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Here is a sample:
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