Saturday, October 01, 2016

Review of 'Captain Fantastic'

I absolutely loved this film - that doesn't happen often. It's about a dad bringing his kids up in the US North West, away from a civilisation whose values he rejects. The kids are 'home' educated (home is a log-cabin-cum-tepee) to an extraordinary level. They spend a lot of time reading and discussing books, and the dad doesn't treat them as too young to understand anything - death, mental illness (their absent mother is bipolar, and much of the plot is about how the family deals with her funeral after her suicide), rape, drugs.

The film is sympathetic to the family's perspective. They aren't nasty right-wing survivalists, though they hunt and forage. They share a leftist perspective on capitalism and consumerism, and celebrate Noam Chomsky's birthday instead of Christmas. But there's tension, and conflict, and unplanned encounters with the 'real' world. There's a proper plot, with a crisis and its resolution (no spoilers here), and we gradually come to see that there's another way of looking at the family, its rejection of American values and its own way of life.

There's some good use of music, but little manipulative incidental music, which I welcomed - I hate it when there's music just to make you feel a particular way.

There's a lot of subtlety in the characterisations, and the children actors are really good - not mawkish at all. I wasn't entirely sure about the ending, but you can make up your own mind.

Watched at 6pm in a nearly-empty Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley.

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