Captain Fantastic is a difficult movie to put a finger on. While the performances are good, it lacks cohesion and a clear message. The narrative pins a Noam Chomsky-loving hippie naturalist father and his six kids against the Christian and capitalist parents of his wife and their mother. It is a very engrossing story, but it contains fewer moments of profundity than it thinks it does.
The film was written and directed by Matt Ross and he clearly wants to present a message. In this he is successful in some ways and unsuccessful in others. The details and lived-in quality mostly works and yet this is one of those films that may be better to lose the levity and staying in scenes as it does in the last shot.
Viggo Mortenson is outstanding and many of the kids are very good. It is not really a character study of Mortenson’s father character, though, because it never gets deep enough into his psyche to for the audience to find out how he really feels about the prospects of a life diametric to the one he had been living. It wasn’t really feasible to make the film about the father, though, when there is always so much going on with the kids. They can sing and dance and hunt and gather, but is there anything deeper?
They live communally, but their community is themselves. There is something missing in life if one does not go out and find that other—be it people or ideas.