Quick Thoughts: Captain Fantastic
An estranged, highly educated and athletic family living in the wilderness lose their mother and so must venture across state lines to crash a funeral she would have never wanted.
I absolutely love this film. From the moment it started I knew I would. Without a doubt, the best film I’ve seen this year and one of the strongest narratives produced in a long time. It wouldn’t surprise me if over the years Captain Fantastic grew into greater stature, proving itself a significant film of these times. Though, such speculation is needless. What matters is that this is a brilliant film. It has an incredibly defined sense of self, it knows what it wants to portray and stays true to that through succinctly immersive characterisation. As touched on, you instantaneously grip the rhythm and rhyme of theses people, their lives, what they stand for and are eager to learn more, stay with them through the meandering, ungrounded plot. Such has this film stand as testament to the power of a focused narrative – the body of a film around the spinal plot. But, in saying that, I’ve dug myself into a metaphor whereby this film is either spineless or a slug. What I mean to communicate is that the major plot points of externalised conflict are of minor importance. What always matters is the extraneous pieces of character, their internal conflicts and the way they interact with their world. In other words, we don’t watch the road twist and turn through towns in what is essentially a road movie, it’s rarely the places travelled that matter, but the time spent getting there with the Cash family. This is the crucial reason why the narrative is so strong. It is punctuated very sparsely with twists, convention and plot-points so it may be imbued with themes and emotional poignancy. And on that note, it must be said that this is a perpetually resonant film. Much like Silent Running this isn’t a technically perfect film. The acting, though great in many parts, isn’t flawless, just as the direction isn’t particularly special (though never bad). However, these are immaterial observations as they do not detract from the filmic experience provided. The same must be said with aspects of characterisation. We are with both an implicitly eccentric family and an intentionally abnormal one. In this they hold small nuances that aren’t going to be relatable – we’re talking about political perspective here–never something to expect universal relatability from. This is the major link to Silent Running though. Even though we may not see the world as the protagonists do, we respect their outlook, accepting it as part of what becomes a flawless package of characterisation. What’s more, despite the somewhat pretentious tone of this movie – pretentious in a good way, much like The End Of The Tour – it breaks through to genuine ground in every aspect of politically charged characterisation. The arcs all characters take aren’t there as commentary on what they say in a political sense, aren’t there to put images and a narrative to the dialogue, instead are there to heighten the thematic journeys they take, are there to explore something an awful lot deeper than political aphorisms. This is where the perpetual resonance starts to ring though. Captain Fantastic speaks to the individual through a narrative constructed by and for great its characters. I can’t say it in many more ways, but this is a truly great film, one that needs to be seen.
However, to really delve into why I love Captain Fantastic, to get stuck into the details of the narrative instead of dancing around it, we’ll have to rely on a part 2 jammed with spoilers.
Titanic – Narrative Purpose
Captain Fantastic – Shade Of You
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