Maintaining an abundant lifestyle in the wilderness, Ben Cash raised his six children for survival away from the rest of working society. Sheltered from the big city bustle, the family live under their own distinct terms, following a routine of hunting and training. After the news of their mum’s suicide is brought to Ben’s attention, life becomes jolted. Dismissed from the funeral plans because of their choice of lifestyle, Ben and his children are determined to fulfil his wife’s wishes. Proceeding into society, the children are put to the ultimate test of surviving in civilisation, while Ben’s capabilities as a father are questioned.
Viggo Mortensen leads the pack of seemingly dishevelled children, all of which deem themselves as strong and highly proficient individuals. It’s Mortensen’s performance that outshines everything around him. He leads the younger cast through a mix of environments, from the familiar woods to a completely alien place of the real world. Following this family does make the contemporary surrounding to even feel like a fantasy after being exposed to their original way of life. Indeed, he is portrayed in a 50/50 light between hero and villain for the children, yet this maintains an excellent balance.
The methods behind Ben’s parenting and the choice of living out in the wilderness is to be considered the predominant focus surrounding the narrative. It is highlighted in a way that questions his capabilities as a father. Following the success captured during the opening half, we are in reason to believe that the outcomes are generally positive for the children. It’s when situations unfold and they are thrust into the ‘real world’ when these methods are questioned. They find themselves in dangerous situations due to their accustomed practices in daily life. Making the answer unclear throughout, there is still no doubt behind the love Ben holds for the six youngsters.
It’s a genuine film. With instances of humour and entertainment, along with the deep emotion coupled along. A true, family driven performance, with the power to present individuality and the capabilities to stand up for what you believe in. Despite their similar ages, the children accomplish a level of originality between them, each with peculiar and charming names. The cast excel in portraying a gang of outcasts, bringing standards of admiration for their choices and lifestyle. These individuals choose to avoid society for a multitude of reasons, and by the success that is evident in the opening scenes, it is even clear to see why they choose this lifestyle. There are faults and disagreements of course, yet this brilliantly still reflects a modern family, despite their obvious differences.
Coming into this film completely unaware of the plot or premise, I can confirm I was pleasantly surprised by what I perceived. Can be seen in so many different lights, a simple yet original concept that doesn’t fail to warm the heart at times.