Captain Fantastic (Ross, 2016) is wonderfully amusing and poignant. It also forces viewers to confront and own up to their limits on parenting and tolerance of counterculture. How open-minded are you about six children being raised in the wild, isolated and constantly drilled on survival skills, political theory, world literature and the arts by their strong-willed father? Would you inform the social services of this mad man, save his children from danger? The movie raises these thought-provoking questions, although it does not attempt to conceal its biases. There is a niche audience targeted and even among them, anticipates varying degrees of appreciation.
Viggo Mortensen delivers a stellar performance as Ben Cash. His commitment to the character is evident in bold physical displays (including full-frontal nudity) and in more subtle gestures: a smirk here, a sigh there, a weary look at a distance. He easily conveys Ben’s grief, self-doubt and undeniable love for his children and his late wife. He effortlessly portrays Ben as a noble polymath not devoid of actual flaws. It is difficult imagining another actor taking the material to the heights that Mortensen has scaled.