The Dead Don't Hurt (15)

The Dead Don't Hurt

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Viggo Mortensen’s second film behind the camera is a quirky spin on the western genre, given true grit by its magnetic heroine.

At the centre of the film is a love story between two independent people who have both grasped the possibilities of the American west. Fierce Vivienne Le Coudy (Vicky Krieps) is a flower seller who gives up her life in San Francisco to settle in Elk Flats, Nevada, with Danish ex-soldier Holger Olsen (Mortensen) after they fall in love at first sight.

Vivienne is no less determined and independent than her ruggedly individualistic lover, and their relationship is presented as a union of equals. Krieps and Mortensen make a convincing and engaging couple, though after Holger heads off to fight in the Civil War, the film is carried by Krieps, as Vivienne must deal with the predatory attentions of a powerful rancher’s spoiled son, Solly McLeod (Tom Jones).

The gentle pacing and fractured, nonlinear structure of this film chime with Mortensen’s arthouse sensibilities, rather than the more traditional view of what a frontier adventure should look like. It’s a pleasant, sincere journey.