He is known for one of his biggest roles as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, but Viggo Mortensen’s latest role as ‘Captain Fantastic’ could not be more different.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, ‘Captain Fantastic’…sounds very similar to a popular superhero film, but there’s nothing supernatural about him. In fact, Mortensen’s character Ben is a humble and loving husband and father to six very special children, though writer-director, Matt Ross, admits: “It’s not an accident that it sounds like a superhero movie. It asks a question, which is: ‘Is he?’ He is a father who’s trying to behave in a superheroic manner, an extreme form of conscious parenting.”
So you must be wondering what we’re on about, right?
Well, the film itself is about a family of hippies who have chosen to reside peacefully in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. Living off the land, Ben teaches his children his own version of survival out in the wilderness: hunting for food and understanding where you food comes from, intense training and defense techniques and of course school – educating his kids and doing a damn good job at that!
The beginning of the film sort of feels like something from The Goonies, as if they have all embarked on an epic adventure in the forest. Reality hits when the kids finally pluck up the courage to ask their father when their mother is coming home, after being hospitalised for three months for a mental disorder. Ben doesn’t have an immediate answer for his beloved children, who are missing their mother terribly, yet he communicates with them like adults and is quite open about what’s going on with her despite their difference in age, which ranges from children to teenagers.
They truly are completely cut away from civilisation and in order to get an update on his wife’s health status, Ben has to go into town to use a phone. He and his eldest son, Bo (George MacKay), hop in to their family car, Steve; an old green school bus filled with books, and drive to the nearest town.
This is when you first find out that although they’re home schooled and completely isolated from society, the kids are extremely clever. While in town, Bo checks the PO box and discovers he has been awarded a place at some of Americas top universities. Despite his book smarts however, it’s clear that he struggles socially when he is approached by a group of young girls and he becomes extremely shy.
Before Bo has the opportunity to confront his father and tell him his good news, which he has been keeping a secret, afraid of how he would react, Ben finds out most terrible news that the mother of his children has committed suicide. The news is devastating for the whole family and some of the children start resenting Ben and think he was responsible for her death because of their way of living.
Everything gets even more crazy and out of control when Ben speaks to his wife’s father, Jack (Frank Langella), to inform him of her burial wishes after finding her will. Unfortunately for Ben, Jack despises him and bans him from attending the funeral, threatening to have him arrested and taking away the children. Devastated by his father in laws decision to keep him away, Ben goes against everything he believes in and gives into his wishes, before the children encourage him stand to what’s right.
There’s a lot that goes on in the film and this is just the first 10 minutes. The story continues with the family driving across the country in their trusty school bus Steve on mission “save mum” to get retrieve her body and honour her will.
Captain Fantastic is out in UK cinemas 9th September 2016.