Summary: In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.
Cast and Characters.
Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash. He lives with his wife and children in the Washington wilderness. He is not into the whole “American lifestyle” and teaches their children survival skills, left wing politics among other things. He home schools them, he encourages them to read books and to talk about it, he allows his children to freely express themselves, even if that includes cursing. He tells them the truth, he doesn’t sugar coat anything and I actually liked that about him. I think if parents trusted their children a bit more, they might be surprised how their children (especially their older ones) react. This is a perfect role for Viggo Mortensen. His laid back persona makes this character work and to keep him likable. It would be really easy to make Ben an unlikable rude dude due to him not conforming to social norms, like not letting his children drink wine (great scene in the film), or explaining sex etc. But I think Mortensen manages to do so.
George McKay as Bo Cash. I thought he was a standout. I really like George McKay. Bo is the oldest of the kids, he is about 18 and he is crossing over into manhood (which the film starts out with him doing a “ritual” of sorts). He is obviously very intelligent but he is socially awkward as he has spent most of his life away from other people. There is a point in the beginning of the film where he runs into some girls at a store he and his father go to and he has no idea what to say to them. There is another scene later with another girl. He knows that he’s weird and it doesn’t seem to bother him much but as he is becoming his own man, he begins to want things outside of where they live and his family. I think McKay was fantastic here. He was very quiet, always in the background, prepared to do what he needs too. His American accent was also very good.
The other kids. So there are five other children: Keilyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja and Nai. They all do very well too. Rellian has a lot of anger and it’s easy to see in the beginning, it comes to everyone’s notice later on in the film. Keilyr and Vespyr are the teenage girls, not sure who was oldest (I think Vespyr) but they had a great relationship with each other. Zaja and Nai were the youngest girl and boy. Zaja was very smart compared to other kids her age and Nai being the youngest, a lot of stuff he says is hilarious.