Last Sunday evening, we watched Captain Fantastic. I’d been avoiding the movie (the word-of-mouth reviews hadn’t been that great), but then Sunday night arrived and there we were without something to watch so when Captain Fantastic popped up on Amazon streaming, we went with it.
Here are my notes.
Summary: I thought, based on comments I heard prior to watching, that this movie was about homeschooling. Instead, I was surprised to discover, it had very little to do with homeschooling and much more to do with mental illness, living off-the-grid, shattered dreams, and family relationships.
Analysis: The father appears to be motivated by thoughtful, outside-the-box thinking, but he is actually driven by fear: If he can protect his children, successfully train them to be strong and independent, he believes he will save them from the depression that took his wife’s life. He never says that of course. That’s just me reading between the lines.
Unfortunately, the movie only skims the surface of these complex issues, rendering the whole (potentially intriguing) story trite. The acting is solid, but the characters are underdeveloped and the plot riddled with inconsistencies. Instead of resonating with viewers (we kept laughing at the characters, not with them, and my poor husband was in agony: “How many more minutes till this is over?”), the movie ends up feeling preposterous.
Conclusion: Captain Fantastic is a cross between Little Miss Sunshine, but without the nuance, and Glass Castle (the book; the movie’s coming out soon), but without the authenticity. However, the movie did make me think—and even write an entire blog post on the matter!—so there’s that.
And then one of my husband’s co-workers said he found it refreshing—so many movies are extreme and unrealistic, but this one was at least extreme and unrealistic in the opposite direction. Which is a valid point.
Have you seen the movie? I’d love to hear your take.
PS. If you wish to dig deeper, here is a more nuanced analysis.
This same time, years previous: dance party, the quotidian (7.27.15), rest and play, the girl and the tea party, classic bran muffins, banana bran muffins, Indian pilaf of rice and split peas, Grace’s gingerbread.