This is the kind of film that you root for and want to succeed, but you know it’s going to betray its own values. When you try to say something in a Hollywood film you have to negate that message, blunt it, reverse it by the ending. These pseudo-alternative stories inevitably reinforce the status quo: where the people who fund the films live, their values. So the viewer feels like he fell for a bait and switch (the modern American paradigm).
While half of Captain Fantastic’s arrows hit their targets the script also suffered from some stinging false notes. The movie rolls on in a fog of dread about whether they’ll nail the next scene or embarrass themselves with hamfisted preachiness, or a staged comeuppance.
I’m one of the people on the side of the main character, wanting him to succeed. The movie’s contrivances work against an honest exploration of this alternative lifestyle though. The dishonesty is evident throughout, how manipulative and deliberate the filmmakers have been.
Perhaps I’ve overstated my disappointment. The family does manage to come together for several heartfelt scenes. It’s certainly not all bad, but be warned about that puppet master just out of frame. It leaves the sense that the writer was a tourist.