Director: Matt Ross
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Missi Pyle, Frank Langella
In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent. (Source: IMDb)
In a year when the big blockbusters have been a little on the lacklustre side, and the summer season of movies hasn’t delivered on all of it’s promise, the Indie scene is thriving, and this wonderful little film has emerged very quietly, as one of the real stand-outs in a sea of mediocre.
With aesthetic nods that pay tribute to the colour palette of Wes Anderson movies, it has a premise which runs the risk of being twee, but fortunately never strays too far into this territory.
When it gets going, this film really has it all; it’s funny, has great performances, is beautiful to look at, and manages to be both beautifully poignant and powerfully uplifting, without ever feeling like it is manipulating you.
Child performances are always a bit hit or miss for me, but there aren’t really any weak links in the young cast. Considering there’s six kids, there was no jostling for screen-time or affection, and each was given their moment. George MacKay, who was truly wonderful in 2014’s Pride, is equally exceptional in this; his ever-expressive eyes speaking louder than most words could. Viggo Mortensen gives possibly the best performance of his career, and could be a real underdog pick come awards season. His weathered face displays a myriad of emotions, and whilst some might question his unorthodox parenting techniques, you can never question is heart, and his unwavering love for his kids.
This is the sort of movie I would describe as being “good for the soul”, a wonderful end of summer palette cleanser to get rid of the taste of months worth of mediocrity.
Whilst I found the characters and the story-line engaging, it took a little while to get going. The first 30 minutes or so seemed to drag on a bit, however this was quickly forgotten once the show got on the road (literally!).
It was a little on the long side in general, and I think cutting down by half an hour or so, would have made for a really solid 90 minute movie.
I saw this movie and you should too. That’s if you can find somewhere that is showing it! So often it is the films you least expect which you absolutely love, and this is undoubtedly one of those films. Fantastic by name, fantastic by nature, this is the little film that could, and it might just be the little film that makes a big impression on you, if you give it the chance!
Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.