Written and directed by Matt Ross
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn
Ben (Mortensen) has raised his children to be strong and intelligent. His unique parenting methods have allowed him and his family to thrive in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. When he’s forced to leave the seclusion of the forest, Ben is faced with the reality of his choices as a father.
This film came from the mind of actor Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms), who both wrote and directed it. The cast includes Viggo Mortensen (G.I. Jane), George MacKay (Defiance), and Samantha Isler (Dig Two Graves). Frank Langella (Robot & Frank) and Kathryn Hahn (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) are also featured.
The film was written by Matt Ross, who originally conceived the idea from his own questions about parenting. While the premise for the film isn’t entirely unique, the setting helps to set this one apart. The characters are all nicely created with their own quirks and eccentricities. Even the dialogue reflects the way that the family has set themselves apart from society. Sometimes the push to be different does bog down the movie. The dialogue often pushes too hard and loses the authentic feel it needs. The story also fails to tie up some loose ends, leaving the payoff feeling somewhat hollow. This isn’t a perfect story, but there are moments worth watching for.
The performances do a lot to elevate the material throughout the film. Viggo Mortensen was the perfect choice for the lead role. His committed performance adds a level of authenticity to the whole experience. He also found a way to connect with all of the young people in the cast. Among those people were George MacKay and Samantha Isler. These two also found nice ways to connect with the material. Frank Langella and Kathryn Hahn are just a couple more of the actors who brought this one to life. Their roles helped to bring out some of the emotional conflicts within the film. Overall, the acting didn’t let this one down. For his work, Viggo Mortensen was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
This movie looks good, taking full advantage of the natural scenery of the Pacific Northwest. The costuming, sets, and locations all feel right for the film. The music is also a nice addition to the movie. This movie doesn’t offer anything new or special in terms of production value. It’s just solid work.
Fans of the stars should definitely check this one out. While the story is imperfect, it has some very nice moments throughout. This is not a light film, so be prepared for some tough moments. I would also suggest this one to people who enjoy deeper emotional dramas. I give this one 3.3 out of 5 stars.