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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Captain Fantastic

Viggo, aaah Veeeeeego.

Loved him in Eastern Promises. Loved him in A History of Violence. Loved him in The Road. The Two Faces of January. Good. The list goes on.  

And yes, loved him in LOTR. Who knew someone called Aragorn could be sexy?

For weeks leading up to its premiere, I saw posters for Viggo's new flick Captain Fantastic everywhere. So often did I see this poster that I started to wonder if I was hallucinating.

The Poster

Admittedly there are worse things in life to see than a shaggy Viggo kitted out in a retro red suit.  Dead rats. Nigel Farage's face. An empty Cadbury's chocolate wrapper.

The mass advertising campaign worked a treat for as soon as the film came out in my local cinema, I was bunkered down, ready to spend the afternoon with Veegs and his fake film children. I had read that the film centred around the complexities of a father trying to raise his brood of children off-grid; a return to nature existence combined with Chomsky-esqe home schooling. 

I've always been fascinated by people who choose to carve out a lifestyle different to the 'mainstream' and the challenges they face. Having known several families doing this very thing, I was curious to see how the film would depict this lifestyle and what message it would impart. And the fact that Viggo was in it certainly didn't hurt. Or am I just repeating myself?

The tone of the film was different to what I had expected. From the poster design, I had anticipated a Wes Anderson-type film with quirks and curious characters. Instead I found Captain Fantastic much more meditative and reflective. The first half was essentially a Captain Von Trapp militaristic fantasy of how to raise children in the forest naked but with no singing nun. But for all the liberal leanings of Ben Cash (Veeg's character), his approach was essentially that of a despot or fascist; the very paradigm that he was rallying against.

Wes Anderson movie poster. Similar right?

His character reminded me of certain people I have met in the past. In particular one guy called Gympie who rejected all mainstream leanings. He lived and travelled around the country on his 'Magic Bus' with his consort of female partners and various children. Shrouding his fascism under the guise of mysticism and anti consumerism, I watched him manipulate situations for his own gain. He was a Class A prat and a study in self deception.

For me the film came into its own when Cash's' tightly controlled world crashes into mainstream reality when his children realise there is more to the world than Russian literature and five am yoga drills. Mortensen's depiction of a good man grappling with the contradictions in his belief system alone, is worth seeing the film for. As he struggles with the cracks in his idealism against his love for his kids; the film shows that the lives we lead, no matter what ideas they are founded upon; are ever changing and constantly complex.

Aaaah Viggo, you did it again.

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