Force of Nature: “Captain Fantastic” Movie Review (3 Stars)

Viggo Mortensen leads one of the most unique and captivating character-driven films of the year.

Viggo Mortensen and the cast of “Captain Fantastic”

For some reason this year, I have continually put off watching “Captain Fantastic.” This indie got excellent reviews out of Sundance last year and continued to pick up great notices when it was released theatrically. It was always my intention to watch it and yet it always got shoved to the side and I couldn’t tell you why it wasn’t appealing to me. It left theaters and I picked up the DVD back in November. It has taken me until January 11 (and a slew of award nominations) for me to watch it – big mistake.

“Captain Fantastic” is easily one of the best and most fascinating character studies I have seen on the screen this year. It’s the story of a father raising his children in the forest – how to survive through hunting and basic survival skills. We meet this family as they learn of their mother’s death by suicide after a long battle with mental illness.

Viggo Mortensen is one of the most underrated actors working today and yet he continually churns out brilliant work year after year. “Captain Fantastic” takes him to new heights! As the father of this group, he is a proud man who is set in his ways and having to deal with life altering events. His performance is riveting and absolutely heartbreaking. Now that he has received nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, count on seeing his name read on January 24th when they announce the nominees for Oscar – and rightfully so.

This film was also shockingly nominated for Best Film Ensemble at the SAG Awards, a move very few predicted. Having watched the movie now, it would’ve been a sin to not nominate them for this award! The kids in this movie (every single one) could easily be nominated for multiple awards.

I’ve never seen so many brilliant child actors together on one screen, each commanding their performances. Toward the beginning of the film, there is a scene in which Mortensen’s character must tell these kids that their mother killed herself. Every single child in that scene is captivating and believable. What an incredible achievement for this cast and their director.

2016 may go down as a year which was stolen by the independent film world, the only place in the industry that truly tells original stories and is pushing the boundaries of what film can do. How many movies can end on a silent 30-second shot of a family around the breakfast table and keep you totally enraptured the whole time? The movie ends with a sigh from Mortensen’s character. After following this beautifully wrought character for the past two hours, that sigh says everything.

Awards Potential: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay



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