'The Dead Don't Hurt' (TIFF review)
Viggo Mortensen and Vicky Krieps star in Mortensen’s impressive second feature, a western that takes a romantic turn but also shows the harsh realities of the time.
Vivienne Le Coudy (Vicky Krieps) sells flowers on the market in 1860s San Francisco. She is being courted by a rich man. But as an independent woman she's not very interested.
When she meets the carpenter Holger (Viggo Mortensen) however, it's a different story. He's a simple man who wants a simple life. He finds them a quiet home outside of town. A home lacking the green garden Vivienne hoped for. But they can grow one themselves.
Holger and Vivienne have a good life. But Vivienne wants more for herself and applies for a job in the local saloon. Meanwhile, Holger decides to return to fight in the war, as it promises good pay.
Without outlining the whole story here, their separation proves a turning point in their lives. Especially for Vivienne, who we keep following as she deals with the harsh realities for women in the 1860s.
Mortensen proves his chops as a director, delivering a subtle and fine-tuned film, without giving himself all the glorious scenes.
Vicky Krieps, meanwhile, shows us a strong woman. Independent and dealing with facts that would be hard to deal with for anyone, even today.
'The Dead Don't Hurt' is a bit slow at times, and it could've been a bit less drawn out. But the whole journey still makes it worthwhile. The payoff we finally get is sweet. Though, with all that has happened before it, bittersweet might be a better word for it.
'The Dead Don't Hurt' had its world premiere at #TIFF23 and doesn't have a release date yet.