“Captain Fantastic” a Hero Without Super Powers
By Skip Sheffield
On a more serious note we have “Captain Fantastic.”
I thought this was going to be a Marvel/DC Comics super hero adventure, but boy was I wrong.
Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben Cash, father of six children, whose wife Leslie (Trin Miller) has become incapacitated by bi-polar mental illness.
If you have ever known anyone with bi-polar disorder, and/or if you have ever lost friends or family to suicide, “Captain Fantastic” is the kind of film that will rip out your heart and stomp upon it.
As a last ditch resort to deal with his wife’s mental illness, Ben and his children have retreated to the Pacific Northwest to live off the grid by the land. Crops provide vegetables and meat is obtained by hunting and killing. Ben has home-schooled his children and urged them to be free-thinkers. The kids have been encouraged to emulate Noam Chomsky, a deep thinker and champion of the “New Left.” This is all well and good deep in the woods, but when Leslie Cash suddenly dies by her own hand, Ben takes it upon himself to bring his children to her funeral in Colorado, traveling in a large converted school bus. Ben undertakes this despite being threatened with arrest by Leslie’s father Jack (Frank Langella), a wealthy, conservative businessman.
Being a parent is challenging under the best of circumstances. Being a single parent with six children in the middle of nowhere is a Herculean effort.
Viggo Mortensen often plays bad guys. Ben Cash is a good guy, but he is seen as bad by much of the outside world. Boy howdy, can I relate.
“Captain Fantastic” is not for everyone. If you are a conventional bedrock conservative person, you will hate this film. If you have ventured to the edges of philosophical radical freedom, you will find much to admire. I think this movie is Viggo Mortensen’s best chance for Best Actor Oscar consideration.