The big questions

In these confusing and restless times, you wouldn’t blame most people for wanting to break free of the trappings of modern consumer culture and live life completely off the grid.



Director:  Matt Ross
Cast:  Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn
Rating:  (M)
Three stars (out of five)


Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), along with his six children, has done just that in the poignant new indie flick Captain Fantastic.

Living a semi-permanent existence in a remote Pacific Northwest shack, he teaches his offspring to hunt, grow food and survive, as well as educating them in the great works of philosophy, politics and literature.

When his wife, who had recently been hospitalised with bipolar disorder, dies suddenly, the clan makes the tough decision to travel to her New Mexico home, against the wishes of her Christian parents, to ensure she is cremated in accordance with her Buddhist beliefs.

Little Miss Sunshine is the obvious comparison, being another quirky family road movie, but the two are indeed quite different.

For a start, this is not really a comedy, although it’s often pretty funny.

It aims rather to ask some serious questions about how we should raise our kids in the world of relentless screens and incessant media.

The problem is so many different ideas are tossed up that writer/director Matt Ross doesn’t develop into a satisfying whole.

The central beliefs of the film are curiously vague, which could well be the point, but it still feels unfocused.

Individual scenes work best, some much better than others, and at two hours in length it meanders.

The ending, however, is perfect. 


- Jeremy Quinn


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