Hmm. Where to start? Let’s go with … special. I had high expectations after a friend recommended ‘Captain Fantastic’, but I have to admit it was a little disappointing and even weirded me out to some extent. It really is a nice concept, some kind of reversed ‘Into the Wild’, but it just didn’t succeed in grasping my interest through the full length of the story. I felt like something was just a little off to make this movie work.
The film does start of strong. We immediately understand the family’s situation and mindset, the whole sentiment of ‘Captain Fantastic’ really. Or at least that’s what I thought. Because initially I believed the idea behind it was to criticize the capitalistic way of living in the US, but after reading an interview with writer and director Matt Ross I realized there was more to it than that. It turns out to be about how a parent should guide their kids through this world and to what extent own opinions should be an influence. After seeing this article I do think it’s actually more about the parenting – and maybe that’s why it’s a little harder for me to connect with the story. I’m simply not a parent yet and didn’t get to meet any of these struggles. – But beside all this there are some other reasons why it’s just not one of my favorites.
The plot might be the problem to me. I feel like sometimes it’s just way to predictable. I mean, I predicted the ending after I saw one glimpse of the troubled kid called Rellian and the oldest one, Bodevan, opening his university acceptance letters. Sometimes predictable doesn’t bother me at all, as you might have noticed in my previous reviews. But when you have a movie with this kind of idea behind it, I somehow expect a storyline with a little more complexity to it. Also the directing sometimes gave things away. For example, after only 3 shots of Vespyr on the roof I knew what would happen.
There are however things that did keep me watching and after all win me over to the more positive side of the reviews. Despite the heavy theme and the very hard situation the family is in, there’s such feeling of joy in this film as well. Since I’m an optimist myself, it’s so nice to watch something that has drama and characters handling the drama so well. Also the lighthearted scenes like the cop stopping the bus and Bo sincerely proposing to the girl he just met that night are so enjoyable. – Although thinking about it afterwards this last one is actually a part of the evolution of Bo’s character, so it has a bit more depth to it than what the situation seems like at first: awkwardly funny. – Another aspect that saves it for me is the great acting. Casting director Jeanne McCarthy did a nice job on this one.
At the end though there’s still something haunting me. I don’t want to spoil too much, but for who’s seen it: the last scene on the bus and the one with the fire is just so freaking weird to me. I’m not sure why, but I mean it’s so morbid and joyful at the same time that it gives me a creepy surreal feeling. The kind that doesn’t want you getting out of bed with no decent lights when everyone else is sleeping like I had to. We recently had a short-circuit – plus we have a huge mirror in our bathroom, which already freaks me out at night. – Good thing at the end of the scene Guns ‘N Roses comes to save the day. What a beautiful cover.
So after all I’m still happy I watched it, but I’m a little disappointed that it didn’t blow me away like promised to me and like it seemed it was going to do at the start. But as Matt Ross also says in his interview, it’s nice to watch an American movie reflecting on the US culture. That’s why I’d still recommend it to people. It’s just not one of those films I’ll be watching multiple times. Pleas leave a comment if you feel the same – or if you don’t.