Captain Fantastic: Quintessential Mortensen

(The homegirl Jess, aka Pistol, comes through with a fantastic pitch of Viggo Mortensen’s new flick) 

There’s nothing that I love more in this world than Arsenal FC, but in the list of my “loves”, Viggo Mortensen ranks pretty high. Somewhere between beer and cheese, but right below music. The man makes me a heart eyes emoji, and has done so for the better part of 2 decades. From Master Chief in “G.I. Jane” to “LOTR” and his Cronenberg collaborations, he just draws me in.

He is a unique man, with his own rules. One of my favourite things about him is that he does not give a fuck about celebrity or big budget blockbusters. He does whatever he wants to do; outside of movies, he makes music and writes poetry (yes, I own a book of it called “Coincidence of Memory”) and runs a publishing company for independent artists. He is ethereal, but he’s also down to earth. He speaks several languages and supports San Lorenzo, an Argentinian football club. And I could go on, but you get my drift.

I didn’t need to see the trailer to “Captain Fantastic”, all I wanted was to experience Viggo on the big screen for the first time since “Two Faces of January” with Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac (who I love too) in 2014. This film is not a mainstream movie, it’s very much off the radar and that’s very much a theme of the film itself. If you are looking for a popcorn flick, you won’t enjoy it. If you’re looking for a traditional comedy, you won’t enjoy it (though there is some darker humor that I quite like). If you’re looking for black or white, right or wrong, then you won’t enjoy it either. But if you’re looking for an escape from all the shit in the world, along with something that makes forces you to engage your brain, then it just might be up your alley.

Viggo plays Ben, a father to 6 brilliant children, raising them in the wilderness of Washington state without electricity or any other technology, while home schooling them in things that I can’t even comprehend. He’s training them to “stick it to the man” and he’s a Chomskyite who is leading his own rebellion against capitalism and the aforementioned “man”. When his wife kills herself, the family go on a mission in their RV named “Steve” to rescue her from her parents (Frank Langella and Ann Dowd) who want her to have a Christian funeral despite the fact that she was a Buddhist who wanted cremation and to be disposed of in a heavily populated place.

The road trip is heavily littered with funny stops including stealing a bunch of groceries from a store (it’s okay to do this on “Noam Chomsky Day” as Ben declares it), but also events which show the children have zero concept of what society is like. When Ben and the kids stay the night with his sister and her family, there is a huge disconnect between them stemming from philosophy to technology. Kathryn Hahn and Steve Zahn play his sister and her husband, and they’re both brilliant as usual. Those two can play the biggest goofballs ever, but they also have dramatic chops for days. 

There are consequences to everything though. No one comes out of this without damage on some level. And while I wanted to hate the wife’s parents, I just couldn’t. There’s too much pain and too much damage here. But, you see things from all sides, and then at the end, you have hope. You feel “the feels” and run a range of emotions with all of the characters. This movie is pretty far removed from the mainstream, but it’s “fantastic” all the same.


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