Captain Fantastic

How Viggo Mortenson Became a ‘Fantastic’ Narcissist

‘Captain Fantastic” is noteworthy for its refreshing views of an authoritarian patriarch, Ben Cash (a terrific performance by Viggo Mortensen), gussied up as a forward-thinking intellectual. Dad’s political motto is “Stick It to the Man,” and he celebrates Noam Chomsky’s birthday instead of Christmas. His children are conversant in Marx, “Middlemarch” and Yo-Yo Ma, but are unable to cope with the real world. Cash, a professor on sabbatical, takes his kids deep into the forests of the Pacific Northwest to make it as survivalists. The kids have no social skills and are a source of amusement to the youngsters they encounter. It’s obvious they would be better off with their grandfather (the always excellent Frank Langella) a no-nonsense, church-going, super-wealthy pillar of the community. The film regrettably closes on a sentimental note, but it nonetheless offers an original and compelling portrait of a classic narcissist who is as uncompromising in his “radical” views as he is devoid of common sense and empathy.

- Simi Horwitz
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