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Posts Tagged ‘annalise basso’

In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his six children live off the grid, hunting and scavenging for their food. He ‘homeschools’ the children, and teaches them survival techniques, giving them dangerous knives and other weapons as presents.

However, when the death of Ben’s wife Leslie forces them to take a trip back to civilisation for her funeral, there is a distinct clash of cultures between their way of life and that of Leslie’s family (and indeed Ben’s own family). For while Ben has taught his children how to survive life or death situations, they are socially inept, as demonstrated by their eldest son when he meets a girl who has a crush on him.

The film raises the question of whether what Ben is doing is fair and right for his children, or whether it is a form of abuse. At least two of the children rebel against his authority and he is left with difficult decisions.

It would be easy to hate Ben for what effectively amounts to brainwashing, and for his almost smug attitude towards other people – for example when his sister’s two sons are unable to tell him what the Bill of Rights is, he calls down his eight year old daughter, who breaks it down for them without a second thought. But Viggo Mortensen is such a talented and subtle actor that while it’s one thing to see what damage Ben is – albeit inadvertently and with the best of intentions – doing to the children, we can also sympathise with him to an extent. But we can also understand the frustration of Leslie’s parents (Frank Langella and Ann Down), who are also basically very decent people.

With splendid acting from all concerned, and a compelling central character, this might not be as funny as you might expect, but it’s compelling and never gets boring. It’s almost two hours long, and felt half the time to me. Recommended.

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