Heute gibt es nur eine Filmbesprechung auf Englisch. Keine anderen Gedanken unter einem Strich.
I think this will be a short review because I am still a little overwhelmed with the film. The film was suggested by Veetii in our Movie Club, and I’ve seen it for the first time. The review might be spoilery.
Captain Fantastic is a film about a family that lives in the woods somewhere in the USA. After the suicide of the mother, the father and children have to deal with her death and navigate corporate America while they’re trying to go and attend her funeral.
The film asks many questions about our modern way of living and I thought it was especially interesting during Covid-19 times. Ben, the father of the children, „homeschools“ them in the woods where he not only assigns them books to read and apparently taught them how to make music. He also trains them to survive in the wild: they hunt, they gut animals, they grow plants, they exercise. From the start of the film, you can see that the children are clever, outspoken and opinionated. There is debate although Ben still seems to be the one who makes decisions. It is unclear which role the mother had before her hospital stay and death.
After Leslie’s (the mother’s) death, Ben takes his children to the funeral of their mother where they are met with Leslie’s and Ben’s family who do not agree with his way of raising the children. Harper, Ben’s sister, clashes with Ben on whether his children should go to a normal school or not which leads to Ben proving to them that his children understand different things about the world than their children. I was compelled to write that they know more, but that wouldn’t quite be true. Ben and Leslie’s children know different things than Harper’s children: they know philosophy and politics, they know music and how to survive outside of society. But they don’t know much about how the modern day USA works. Although they know enough to use the workings of capitalism to their advantage.
I think the film raises questions about how we live with each other and what kind of knowledge is valuable to us. Especially considering Covid-19 where more people turn to gardening or baking their own bread, I thought the question of which knowledge is valuable is even more highlighted. Most of don’t know how to survive in the wild because right now, we don’t need to. We don’t need to shoot and gut our food for ourselves. We rely on others to feed us. It’s convenient, and personally, I wouldn’t like to have to shoot animals very much. On the other hand, this lifestyle alienates us from the rest of the world (non-human world) and isolates us. Maybe we’re experiencing this now more than ever.
Apart from this, Ben’s character arc is also partcularly interesting. He is convinced that his way of raising his children is right. Otherwise he wouldn’t have isolated them from the world for the last decade. I think what he learns throughout the film is that he needs to practice what he preaches. He teaches his children to think for themselves and voice their opinion. And he needs to learn to listen to them instead of making decisions for them. I think his turning point is when one of his daughters almost dies in an accident and he realizes that he cannot endanger his children’s lives anymore, after two of his sons have already pushed back against his authority. Ben is all about respecting his wife’s wishes about her death, and needs to learn to respect his children’s wishes as well.
Which leads me to the last plot point I want to discuss: death. The film also contrasts two ways of dealing with death against each other: a removed, sterile funeral by Leslie’s family, and a simultaneously sad and joyful cremation by Ben and his children. It shows how removed modern society is from death. (I think it’s also highlighted by the way Ben’s family and Harper’s family deal with dead animals.) And I very much liked the personal goodbye the family gave to Leslie. It honored her wishes and gave all of them the space and time to say goodbye to their mother/wife they needed.
Apart from the plot, the film was incredibly gorgeous. The scenery in the beginning in the woods was splendid. I also liked how Ben’s family always looked out of place everywhere because of their colourful and self-made clothes (for proof see picture above).
So I am giving this movie 4 out of 5 stars.
You can read Veetii’s review here.
You can read Dolby’s review here.
(Photo credit: Bleecker Street)