Screening at Sundance and Cannes, this indie family drama explores parenthood
Winning best director at Cannes’ Un certain regard competition this year, writer and director Matt Ross’ touching and tragicomical film looks at how non-conformism affects child-rearing. Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Leslie live off the grid deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest with their six children. Avid counterculturalists, they boycott Christmas in favor of “Noam Chomsky Day” and lovingly raise their kids to be “philosopher kings” with candor and a rigorous physical and mental regimen.
Tragedy strikes however when Leslie passes away, forcing the family to leave their idyllic woods and enter civilization for the funeral. As it dawns upon the older children that their isolated life has left them both better educated and entirely unsuited to living outside the wilderness, Ben’s father-in-law (Frank Langella) is appalled at the state of his grandchildren and horrified at the dangers they face in the wild, accusing Ben of child abuse. As he is faced with losing custody of his family, Ben is forced to take a good, long look at the price his kids have unwittingly paid for his well-intentioned choices.