Home Entertainment Viggo Mortensen Explains How ‘The Dead Don’t Hurt’ Defies Gender Norms

Viggo Mortensen Explains How ‘The Dead Don’t Hurt’ Defies Gender Norms

by smbpapon22P

The Big Picture

  • Viggo Mortensen’s new movie, The Dead Don’t Hurt, challenges gender norms in its narrative, blurring the lines between masculine and feminine approaches to problems and discussions.
  • Vicky Krieps delivers an outstanding performance as Vivienne, a character who defies the norms of her era by forging a unique and non-dependent relationship with Holger Olsen, played by Mortensen.
  • In addition to directing and starring, Mortensen also wrote the script for The Dead Don’t Hurt, which features a talented cast including Solly McLeod, Garret Dillahunt, Danny Huston, W. Earl Brown, and Shane Graham.

One of the great things about making western movies in the 21st century is that we get to revisit and take a more critical look at a genre that practically defined cinema for many years. We’ve all seen what acclaimed movies like The Power of the Dog can do, but Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) has more to say with his new movie The Dead Don’t Hurt, as he told Collider’s Steve Weintraub in an interview.

The writer and director sat down with Weintraub to talk about the follow-up to his 2020 directing debut Falling and revealed that one of the aspects that he wanted to remain blurry in the story was when it came to gender norms. Mortensen suggested that he wanted the narrative – which centers around an immigrant woman (played by Vicky Krieps) who tries to start a life in a corrupt Nevada town in the 1860s – to be difficult to categorize:

“[S]ometimes people like to put things in a category, ‘Okay, it’s a feminist Western.’ I never said that, but the idea of feminine/masculine is a complex thing, more and more so these days. People talk about it more openly, but, you know, sometimes a man can be very feminine and a woman can be more masculine in their approach to a certain problem or a discussion, and you see that in our characters. They fluctuate. Even after their first night together, she’s like, ‘Wow, that was fun, but now, in the light of day, he seems like an idiot.’ So one of the first questions she says is, ‘So when are you leaving?’ And he’s says, ‘Well, I’m leaving,’ and he smiles, and she thinks, ‘Oh, maybe he does have some balls. Okay. Maybe it’s interesting. Maybe I can get to know him a little bit more before I completely kick him out,’ you know? So I like this back and forth. Sometimes, one is stronger than the other, and there is a kind of a tug-of-war.”

Krieps is the Heart of ‘The Dead Don’t Hurt’

Image via Lu Chau

In the story, Krieps’ character Vivienne defies the norms of her era by striking up a wildly different and non-dependent relationship with Danish carpenter Holger Olsen (Mortensen). The actor’s performance has been widely acclaimed by critics that watched the movie in early screenings at film festivals – including Collider’s Chase Hutchinson, who called her performance “outstanding” and the “central force” of the entire movie.

Aside from directing and starring, Mortensen also wrote the script of The Dead Don’t Hurt. The cast also features Solly McLeod (House of the Dragon), Garret Dillahunt (Fear the Walking Dead), Danny Huston (Consecration), W. Earl Brown (Deadwood) and Shane Graham (The Son). The movie is yet to get a wide release date. However, it’s likely that we’ll be able to watch it later this year if the studio wants to make Krieps’ performance eligible for the awards season.

You can watch our full interview with Viggo Mortensen and Vicky Krieps below:

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