The Dead Don't Hurt

The Dead Don't Hurt
Original title:The Dead Don't Hurt
Director:Viggo Mortensen
Running time:129 minutes
Release date:31 may 2024
The American West in the 1860s. After meeting Danish immigrant Holger Olsen, Vivienne Le Coudy, a resolutely independent young woman, agrees to follow him to Nevada, to live with him. But when the Civil War broke out, Olsen decided to enlist and Vivienne found herself alone. She must now face Rudolph Schiller, the town's corrupt mayor, and Alfred Jeffries, a large landowner. Above all, she must resist the more than insistent advances of Weston, Alfred's brutal and unpredictable son. When Olsen returns from the front, he and Vivienne are no longer the same. They have to get to know each other again to accept each other as they have become...

Mulder's Review

The Dead Don't Hurt, Viggo Mortensen's latest film project, is a fascinating exploration of the human spirit set against the backdrop of the American West in the mid-19th century. Mortensen, who directs, writes, composes the music and stars in the film, delivers a tale as ambitious in scope as it is personal in execution. The film is a Western, to be sure, but it transcends the genre's traditional boundaries to delve deeper into themes of love, survival and moral conflict.

The story revolves around Holger Olsen, a Danish immigrant played by Viggo Mortensen, and Vivienne Le Coudy, a French-Canadian played by Vicky Krieps. The film is structured in a non-linear fashion, a choice that reinforces its thematic complexity by juxtaposing past and present. Through a series of flashbacks, Mortensen weaves a tale of their struggles and triumphs in a harsh, unforgiving world.

Viggo Mortensen's direction is deliberate and thoughtful, with a clear emphasis on character development and emotional depth. He uses a slower pace, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the characters' experiences and atmospheric settings. This methodical pace is punctuated by moments of intense conflict or emotional revelation that add dramatic weight to the story.

Vicky Krieps brilliantly plays Vivienne, whose strength and resilience shine through even in moments of vulnerability. Her performance is nuanced, reflecting the complexity of a woman facing the challenges of her environment and times. Mortensen's portrayal of Holger is equally convincing. He brings a stoic intensity to the role, effectively conveying the inner turmoil of a man caught between his responsibilities and his sense of morality. The chemistry between Krieps and Mortensen is palpable, anchoring the romantic elements of the story in a tangible reality that resonates with authenticity and emotional truth.

Marcel Zyskind's cinematography is one of the film's highlights. The vast landscapes of the American West are captured with a breathtaking beauty that contrasts sharply with the brutality of the characters' lives. Zyskind's use of natural light and vast panoramas not only enhances the visual narrative, but also reflects the thematic undercurrents of freedom and confinement.

Viggo Mortensen's musical score complements the visual narrative, imbuing the film with an emotional resonance that underscores the story's profound moments. His compositions are both subtle and powerful, weaving in and out of scenes with a grace that matches the film's rhythm.

The Dead Don't Hurt tackles themes of injustice, resilience and redemption. Mortensen explores them through the lens of his characters, all of whom are defined by their moral choices in the face of adversity. The exploration of gender roles and societal expectations is particularly poignant, presenting a feminist perspective that is both refreshing and deeply needed in the genre.

The non-linear narrative may be a challenge for some viewers, but it's essential for the type of story Mortensen is telling. It allows us to better understand the characters and their motivations, making the emotional fallout all the more powerful.

The Dead Don't Hurt is a major cinematic achievement. It's a film that challenges convention and invites its audience to reflect on profound moral issues. With its stunning cinematography, remarkable performances and thoughtful direction, it stands out not only as a powerful Western, but also as a profound exploration of the human condition. Viggo Mortensen's film is a testament to the enduring power of cinema to explore and illuminate the darkest corners of our history and our hearts.

The dead don't hurt
Written and directed by Viggo Mortensen
Produced by Regina Solórzano, Jeremy Thomas, Viggo Mortensen
With Vicky Krieps, Viggo Mortensen, Solly McLeod, Garret Dillahunt, Colin Morgan, Ray McKinnon, Luke Reilly, Atlas Green, Danny Huston
Cinematography: Marcel Zyskind
Editing: Peder Pedersen
Music: Viggo Mortensen
Production companies: Talipot Studio, Recorded Picture Company, Perceval Pictures
Distributed by Shout! Studios (U.S. and Canada), Metropolitan Films (France)
Release date: September 8, 2023 (TIFF), May 1, 2024 (France), May 31, 2024 (U.S.)
Running time: 129 minutes

Seen April 5, 2024 at UGC Ciné-cité Les Halles, room 10

Mulder's Mark: