Vicky Krieps and Viggo Mortensen are unleashing original Western film “The Dead Don’t Hurt” this fall festival season.
Slated as a feminist take on the genre, “The Dead Don’t Hurt” is premiering at 2023 TIFF and marks lead star Mortensen’s sophomore effort as a director following his 2020 debut “Falling.” The logline for “The Dead Don’t Hurt” teases that Mortensen and Krieps “try and survive the corruption in a tough Nevada town” in the 1860s. Mortensen writes, directs, and acts in the film centered on two immigrants forging a new life on the frontier.
The full synopsis reads: French-Canadian flower seller Vivienne Le Coudy (Krieps) and Danish carpenter Holger Olsen (Mortensen) meet in San Francisco. Vivienne is irreverent, fiercely independent, and refuses to wed, but agrees to travel with Holger to his home near the quiet town of Elk Flats, Nevada. There, they begin a life together — Vivienne grows roses and waits tables at a tavern and Holger builds barns, until the couple are separated by Holger’s decision to fight for the Union in the burgeoning Civil War. Left on her own, Vivienne must fend for herself in a place controlled by corrupt Mayor Rudolph Schiller (Danny Huston) and his business partner, powerful rancher Alfred Jeffries (Garret Dillahunt). Alfred’s violent, wayward son Weston (Solly McLeod) aggressively pursues Vivienne, who is determined to resist his unwanted advances.
Nadia Litz, W. Early Brown, and Mark Dennis also star.
According to TIFF festival director Cameron Bailey, “The Dead Don’t Hurt” showcases the “brilliance of Mortensen’s narrative structure that frontloads the lawlessness and mayhem we expect from a Western, then gradually introduces the tenderness and moral integrity that give this film its true raison d’être. Framed in a style that emphasizes the relationship between character and landscape, and infused with multiple exquisite performances, this is a portrait of a passionate woman determined to stand up for herself in an unforgiving world dominated by ruthless men.”
Production took place in Mexico, Canada, and Denmark, with HanWay Films is handling domestic sales on the film at TIFF. Worldwide rights are available. “The Dead Don’t Hurt” is a joint Talipot Studio, Recorded Picture, and Perceval Pictures production.
Lead actress Krieps previously hinted to IndieWire that the film will have plenty of problems for her character. The “Phantom Thread” breakout also told The Times UK that “in the world of Westerns there were not many women. So that was very tough. Of all men (Mortensen) is very soft and open and very ‘there’. But still it reminded me why I like to work with women.”
Check out the poster for “The Dead Don’t Hurt” below.