3 out of 5 stars
The fact that the film manages to overcome a trailer that gave away much of the plot and a subject matter that doesn’t hold much appeal to me is testament of its strength and I must admit I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would. There’s much originality and restraint in a script that doesn’t demonize or provide easy answers but tries to show the various discourses and potentials the idea of abandoning civilised society to raise one’s family in a more natural habitat has on both the parents and the children growing up. The film flows well despite some varying tonal changes and Viggo Mortensen anchors the film with a solid and unwavering performance. It is also a very cinematic film where the photography makes the best of what nature has to offer with some breath-taking compositions. However, I cannot shake some of the more enigmatic blanks the film conveniently skips over since we meet the family already a decade living in the wild. It seems as effortless to set up this home away from civilisation as it is to, say, set up the equipment needed for a very scary rock-climbing session or an impromptu but perfectly arranged cremation service. The mid-section of the film conveniently set up 2 almost self-contained chapters to illustrate the contrasting viewpoint and the ending feels a little convenient (that word again) when the opposing force in the form of the grandparents just disappeared from existence. Ultimately, the film, though enjoyable, is really a fantasy and an idealistic and utopianistic one to boot.