“I don’t hate you. I just wish you’d helped mom.”
“Captain Fantastic” starring Viggo Mortensen, written and directed by Matt Ross was a fascinating movie about a large family living off the land, off the grid. Ben (Mortensen) is raising six kids out in the wild in the Pacific Northwest. His wife, Leslie, was formerly an attorney, but after giving birth to her first child, postpartum depression led doctors to diagnose her with bipolar disorder.
The interactions between Ben and Leslie are nonexistent in the film, however, it is eluded to that Ben and Leslie believed that some of her stresses of modern society may have led to her illness, so they decided to move out in the woods and raise their children away from society. They did this instead of medication and counseling and the prescribed modern treatment for bipolar disorder.
As Leslie’s illness worsens, she moves to her parents’ hometown for treatment of her disorder at the hospital. While at the hospital, she takes her own life. Ben finds out from her family, and now has to lead his family to what to do next, how to move forward, how to grieve, how to move on.
This is a powerful film exploring themes about education, traditional versus homeschool, the modern trappings of Western society versus living off the grid. The children are exposed to many different philosophies and political systems. Leslie’s last will and testament was to be cremated based on her Buddhist beliefs, but her parents, believers in the Christian faith want a Christian service and burial in the local cemetery.
The family sets off to go “rescue” their mom’s body and execute her final wishes. The trip leads to many discoveries by the children in the “civilized” world and different complications due to their unregistered status.
It is a very fascinating move with a different perspective to life than most people in Western society. It is a thought-provoking movie about was is important and why and if what we are living for really is the most important.
The film is currently avaialble to watch for free on IMDbTV on the movie’s page.