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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo


Found By: Iolanthe

Finally the Blu-ray Special Edition of Sean Penn's The Indian Runner has been released and I hope it will give a new lease of life to an outstanding film that barely raised a ripple on its release. Multi-layered, frightening, thought provoking and at times deeply moving, it's full of outstanding performances from Viggo, David Morse, Valeria Golino, Patricia Arquette, Charles Bronson and Sandy Dennis. It's time it was appreciated by a wider audience.





As moody and volatile as the problematic Frankie, "The Indian Runner" starts off with a killing and sustains a threat of possible violence throughout even its gentlest episodes. That threat is especially evident in the presence of Mr. Mortensen, a magnetic actor capable of both scary outbursts and eerie, reptilian calm. (Mr. Penn's own acting style is strongly echoed in this performance.) It is some measure of Mr. Mortensen's savage, mocking ferocity that in a final confrontation with Dennis Hopper, who plays a bartender given to in-your-face philosophizing, Mr. Hopper seems easily the tamer of the two.

Janet Maslin
New York Times
20 September 1991




Over at his place Sean had a really interesting book of photographs from the sixties by Dennis Hopper-just plain ordinary folks across the country. There was a picture of a guy at a diner, with his hair up in the air, wearing a white shirt with the cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve and a tattoo on his arm. And Sean said, 'That's Frank!' Then Sean calls me and says, 'I got the television on here, it's HBO, and there's a movie on called Fresh Horses, and there's this actor in it . . . '

Don Phillips
When Viggo Met Sean
filminfocus.com
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly (UK: Faber and Faber, US: Canongate US, 2004)




'Seeing his face and his expression, I knew it was him. I was praying for such a wonderful actor. I wasn't disappointed.'

Sean Penn
Viggo Mortensen: The magician of The Lord of the Rings
by Aurelie Raya
Paris Match
8 January 2004




'I had always thought of Frank as a barking dog that bites,' Penn says, 'so I asked Viggo to spend some time with a friend of mine who's a Hell's Angel who knows the world and also is a fighter - not that there's a lot of fighting in the movie, but I felt that he should know it and be able to feel that physical confidence.'

Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premier
October 1991




Facially, Mortensen looks like a cross between Sam Shepard and echt movie villain Lance Henriksen, a suggestion enhanced by his character's myriad jailhouse tattoos (applied in hours-long makeup sessions) and the unperiodlike leather brace on his right hand and wrist, which he wears constantly and removes only immediately before shooting. Word on the set is that Mortensen busted a knuckle and sprained his wrist during rehearsals for a fight scene, but when asked about the injury, his eyes take on a demonic glint.

'Sean Penn,' he says, 'bit me.'

Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premiere
October 1991




"Charles Bronson I didn't get to know extremely well but I liked him; in fact, there's a version of the scene where I go to my parents' house at the beginning of the story. It was a really interesing scene with Charles and Sandy Dennis playing really well. In fact Charles delivered some of the best acting I've ever seen. Shame it didn't make the movie, but I could understand Sean's reasons. He thought my character should be more messed up. But it was a scene that was very awkward; I was high, and was really insulting. It was horrible, but also fascinating."

Viggo Mortensen
Uncut
November 2007




… it's the brothers who hold the screen. Mortensen, working in hot colors, and Morse, working in gray, deliver sensational performances.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone




Sean had decided that Viggo and I were going to rehearse for two weeks, but we were only going to rehearse our big scene in the bar. So he had a bar set up in a gymnasium where we could shoot baskets but also really do our work. And during those two weeks, I have a feeling it was harder for Viggo, because Sean identified more with the role of Frank, and he would really try to push him to do certain things. But Viggo just kept holding back. He never really did the scene in those two weeks.... I think Sean was still a little nervous going into the bar scene. Then I remember a real struggle for what was going to happen, what the moments were going to be between the two of them. And something happened, it crystallized, and suddenly Viggo was on fire.

David Morse
When Viggo Met Sean
filminfocus.com
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly (UK: Faber and Faber, US: Canongate US, 2004)




Deploying that unsettling stare and those bacon-slicer cheekbones for the first time, he creates a memorably feral, seductive and unpredictable lost soul with a capacity to switch from charm to menace in an instant that brings to mind a young Kirk Douglas.

The Indian Runner Film Review
By Jeff Robson
Eye for Film
14 September 2011




'When you feel his anger brewing - and it comes out of nowhere, like a freak storm-you want to duck for cover. Sometimes the alarm dissipates; in my favorite scene from the film, he startles a neighbor who has called at his door, yanking her Elvis t-shirt over her face while an inquisitive old coot looks on. Mortensen oscillates between drowsy menace and raucous mania, making you unsure of the scene's intended tone, and of him; it recalls Jack Nicholson's infamous diner scene in Five Easy Pieces, only without the comforting hint of showmanship...'

On Viggo Mortensen
By Ryan Gilbey
Filminfocus.com
4 December 2007




This is room 202, practically at the top of the stairs, which has been dressed as Frank's crash pad. Mortensen walks in and surveys its detritus. He takes a washcloth from the room's sink, folds it, and drapes it over the railing at the foot of the bed...no, not just yet. First, he goes to the bottle of Southern Comfort that sits on the dresser, lies on the bed, and puts the bottle between his legs to open it. Then he splashes some sour mash on the washcloth and re-drapes it. With his thumb over the top, he sprinkles more over the sheets and replaces the bottle. Finally, he ponders the room's Bible: Should it go over the bed? No. Under the pillow? No.

Then he seems to get an idea: he grabs his switchblade, inserts it as a bookmark, and places the Bible on the bed. There.

Viggo's attention to detail on set
Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premier,
October 1991




'Hopefully what will come across is that he does things he does because he's pure, pure good and pure bad,' explains Mortensen. 'I mean, compared to me and most people I know - we kind of have little controls and little ways of limiting our behaviour and our reactions to people. Frank doesn't really do that.'

Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premier
October 1991




The fact that Frank is more than a bit of a bastard and yet the audience still feels for him? That's testament to the quality of Mortenen's work here.

The Indian Runner Blu-ray Review
DVD Talk
25 October 2017




"I remember Sean saying to me on about the sixth week of shooting," Indian producer Phillips recalls, "'Don, Viggo's going to be a humongous star.'"

Don Phillips
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003




"He's not a good actor, he's a great ****ing actor," Hopper says. "I'm not a fan of Sean's other two movies, but this is a hell of a movie. Don't live another day without seeing it. Mortensen is it. He's the real deal."

Dennis Hopper
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004



You will find all previous Quotables
here.


© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Westmount.

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Indian Runner Release


Source: KL Studio Classic.
Found By: Chrissie
Categories: Indian Runner

Thanks to Chrissie for the find. Not very different from what's gone before - but a great Viggo movie nonetheless - Kino Lorber's cover for its forthcoming blu-ray release.


© KL Studio Classic. Images © Kino Lorber.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo



This week I thought I'd follow up Witness and A Walk on the Moon with another movie retrospective, The Indian Runner. It's still one of my favourite Viggo films and no matter how many times I watch it, Viggo's performance just blazes off the screen, fresh and astonishing. It saw the start of his friendship with Dennis Hopper, probably put a generation off eating peas, and I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall as Sean Penn prepared him and David Morse for that bar scene.





Sean Penn [had] by chance had seen one of his films on a cable channel. 'Seeing his face and his expression, I knew it was him. I was praying for such a wonderful actor. I wasn't disappointed,'

Viggo Mortensen: The magician of The Lord of the Rings
by Aurelie Raya
Paris Match
Jan 8, 2004




"He had something, an angularity, a severity to his handsomeness that I perceived as being 'like Frank'."

Sean Penn
When Viggo Met Sean
filminfocus.com
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly




'At the start, I preferred the character which was finally played by David Morse. Mine was just described as "the baddy'. But I said to myself that, behind the slightly too obvious behaviour of Frank Roberts, there had to be a really complex reason.'

Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
by Juliette Michaud
Studio Magazine
December 2002




'I had always thought of Frank as a barking dog that bites,' Penn says, 'so I asked Viggo to spend some time with a friend of mine who's a Hell's Angel who knows the world and also is a fighter - not that there's a lot of fighting in the movie, but I felt that he should know it and be able to feel that physical confidence.'

Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premier
October 1991




Facially, Mortensen looks like a cross between Sam Shepard and echt movie villain Lance Henriksen, a suggestion enhanced by his character's myriad jailhouse tattoos (applied in hours-long makeup sessions) and the unperiodlike leather brace on his right hand and wrist, which he wears constantly and removes only immediately before shooting. Word on the set is that Mortensen busted a knuckle and sprained his wrist during rehearsals for a fight scene, but when asked about the injury, his eyes take on a demonic glint.

'Sean Penn,' he says, 'bit me.'

Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premiere
October 1991




"Charles Bronson I didn't get to know extremely well but I liked him; in fact, there's a version of the scene where I go to my parents' house at the beginning of the story. It was a really interesing scene with Charles and Sandy Dennis playing really well. In fact Charles delivered some of the best acting I've ever seen. Shame it didn't make the movie, but I could understand Sean's reasons. He thought my character should be more messed up. But it was a scene that was very awkward; I was high, and was really insulting. It was horrible, but also fascinating."

Viggo Mortensen
Uncut
November 2007




This is room 202, practically at the top of the stairs, which has been dressed as Frank's crash pad. Mortensen walks in and surveys its detritus. He takes a washcloth from the room's sink, folds it, and drapes it over the railing at the foot of the bed...no, not just yet. First, he goes to the bottle of Southern Comfort that sits on the dresser, lies on the bed, and puts the bottle between his legs to open it. Then he splashes some sour mash on the washcloth and re-drapes it. With his thumb over the top, he sprinkles more over the sheets and replaces the bottle. Finally, he ponders the room's Bible: Should it go over the bed? No. Under the pillow? No.

Then he seems to get an idea: he grabs his switchblade, inserts it as a bookmark, and places the Bible on the bed. There.

Viggo's attention to detail on the IR set
Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premier
October 1991




SEAN PENN: Viggo's inherent kindness as a guy showed in a sort of languid movement. And that was a lesson for me about what parts of people express themselves without trying.

Sean Penn
When Viggo Met Sean
filminfocus.com
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly




DAVID MORSE: ...it was harder for Viggo, because Sean identified more with the role of Frank, and he would really try to push him to do certain things. But Viggo just kept holding back. He never really did the scene in those two weeks.... I think Sean was still a little nervous going into the bar scene. Then I remember a real struggle for what was going to happen, what the moments were going to be between the two of them. And something happened, it crystallized, and suddenly Viggo was on fire.

David Morse on the bar scene
When Viggo Met Sean
filminfocus.com
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly




SEAN PENN: I think I stimulated Viggo's temper. And, as I remember, I think I got a little bit personal.

When Viggo Met Sean
filminfocus.com
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly




In a pivotal scene in The Indian Runner, Sean Penn's first film as a director, a character named Frank Roberts suddenly attacks a bartender played by Dennis Hopper, who is cleaning blood off the bar. Is the blood symbolic of something that triggers the attack? "No," says Viggo Mortensen, who plays the violent Frank. "It was Dennis's breath."

Tough Guy
Eliza Krause
23 September 1991




'Hopefully what will come across is that he does things he does because he's pure, pure good and pure bad,' explains Mortensen. 'I mean, compared to me and most people I know - we kind of have little controls and little ways of limiting our behaviour and our reactions to people. Frank doesn't really do that.'

Sean Penn Bites Back
By Christopher Connelly
Premier
October 1991




"I remember Sean saying to me on about the sixth week of shooting," Indian producer Phillips recalls, "'Don, Viggo's going to be a humongous star.'"

Don Phillips
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003




"He's an often solitary, very poetic creature, Viggo, and all of that worked [for the movie]."

History Teacher by Missy Schwartz
Entertainment Weekly
August 19, 2005




"He's not a good actor, he's a great ****ing actor," Hopper says. "I'm not a fan of Sean's other two movies, but this is a hell of a movie. Don't live another day without seeing it. Mortensen is it. He's the real deal."

Dennis Hopper
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski,
Vanity Fair magazine, January 2004



You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Westmount.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo



Another long Quotable! We've been hearing all week about Viggo's partnership with Cronenberg, a partnership that has brought us three extraordinary films and which we and, I'm betting, every serious film goer and critic out there, hopes will long continue. So how about all those other directors? Taking a look back over Viggo's non-Cronenberg career it's clear that they have all, to a man and woman, appreciated exactly the same things about Viggo that Cronenberg does. The commitment, the risk taking, the dedication and research, his ability to almost read their minds, the complexity he brings to characters and the fact that he becomes a true collaborator.





Lisandro Alonso: awaiting title


"I liked him very much; right then I realized that we could treat one another as equals. He's an actor I love, among other things for the way in which he transmits emotions physically, gesturally. He's not an actor who's usually given great lines of dialogue, but you see him, for example, in the final scene of History of Violence, David Cronenberg's film, and you realize how incredible his work is, the things you can read in his face."

Lisandro Alonso
"It´s a mixture of spaces, times and languages."
By Diego Brodersen - translated by Ollie and Zoe
Pagina 12
27 October 2013




"Viggo is directed by himself, doesn´t need my help; he is an amazing actor, a unique person, a dream producer."

Lisandro Alonso
Nueva voz: Lisandro Alonso y el cine de los hombres solos
El Deber
28 December 2013




Ana Piterbarg: Todos Tenemos Un Plan


What was it that drew you to Viggo. Why was he right for the role?

I think he one of the best actors in the world. In his body of work he plays such a range of different characters that I knew that he could play the two diverse roles in this movie. He is a well travelled and cultured person as well as being sensitive he can be brutal at the same time.

Ana Piterbarg talks Tigre and Viggo with The Fan Carpet's Holly Patrick for Everybody Has a Plan at the 56th LFF
By Holly Patrick
Fancarpet
20 October 2012




John Hillcoat: The Road


"Actors come with baggage, as well. Sometimes that baggage can help, like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. His baggage was part of the performance. With Viggo, there's something slightly elusive about him, and he has quite a wide range, and yet, also, there's this real physicality about him. And there's this tenderness.

"And his face also reminded me of Grapes of Wrath, the Dorothea Lange photos of the Great Depression, Midwest people struggling with the collapse of the environment and the economy."

John Hillcoat
On The Road with Viggo and Kodi:
By Jay Stone
Canada.com
18 November 2009




Ed Harris: Appaloosa


"Not only do I have a great respect for him as an actor but as a human being. He's a really decent guy. He's great on the set, treats everybody really respectfully. I just thought he'd be perfect. These were two guys who had to communicate a lot about being who they were and the knowledge of each other without really talking about it ... If Viggo couldn't have done it, I don't know if I would've made the movie"

Ed Harris
Viggo is one straight shooter
By Kevin Williamson
Toronto Sun
6th September 2008




"I figured if he wanted to do it - if he responded to the material - then he would immediately understand what this was between these guys without us having to talk about for hours on end..."

Ed Harris
Globe and Mail
22 September 2008




Vicente Amorim: Good


"I loved having chosen him, because I liked his performance in "A History of Violence" very much. He has a sweet masculinity and an unusual political consciousness, especially among Americans. Viggo didn't need any explanation, for example, about the contemporary political relevance of "Good" and he was very interested in the dramatic potential of the character."

Vicente Amorim Starts His International Career (and talks about Good)
By Catalina Arica - translated for V-W by Paddy
EGO
29 May 2006




Q: Aren't you scared to work with an actor like Viggo?

A: Of course, I'm scared. I'm anxious. I'm looking forward to it. I'd love to start it right now.

Vicente Amorim (Director)
Rede CBN radio interview
3 June 2006
Translated by Claudia




Agustín Díaz Yanes: Alatriste


CK: What did Viggo Mortensen provide the film?

ADY: Everything; absolutely everything. In Spain, because of the tradition of our cinema, we don't have action heroes, and Viggo combines an impressive physique (that "exact image of the weary hero" that Arturo wanted) with the fact of being a spectacular actor of action (films). He's an extraordinary actor in dialogues, in everything...he has that combination that it's so difficult to find here. Viggo has been the vital centre of the film. The title of the movie is "Alatriste"!!. His experience, his help and his advice have also been very important.

Agustín Díaz Yanes
Action, history...and skilled swordsmen
By Andrés Rubin de Celis - translated by Paddy for V-W
Citizen K Espana
July 2006



"He is the ultimate. He is a confident actor, he expresses everything with his eyes, he is an internal actor of action, who is present in all scenes in the film, some 90, with the exception of 6. It has been like filming with a Spanish actor, you can ask any cinematic favors you wish. He is also very exacting with himself from both an artistic and moral point of view. If I ever had the chance to work with him again, I would be delighted..."

Agustín Díaz Yanes
Alatriste Fights in the Streets
By Rocío García
EL PAÍS 1st Aug 2005
Translated by Elessars Queen




Joe Johnston: Hidalgo


"I hadn't seen the first Lord of the Rings before we cast him, but I figured anybody that could sell blouses to Diane Lane out of a truck could do anything."

Joe Johnston
Staci Layne Wilson
American Western Magazine
March 2004




"He's also completely devoted to the project. He was always there. We worked him a lot more than we should have. He never complained, and he was there dawn to dusk and beyond. He's largely responsible for making that whole aspect of this really work. He's really amazing."

Joe Johnston
IGN gets the behind-the-action goods from the director, writer and star of Hidalgo.
By Jeff Otto, IGN
March 04, 2004




Peter Jackson: The Lord of the Rings



"Viggo has that dark, mysterious, quiet-man quality. He's also very intelligent and private. A lot of people have said these movies are going to make Viggo a big star. I nod and smile, knowing that being a big star is the last thing in the world that Viggo wants. He's completely unimpressed and disinterested in that world. I think he'd prefer to stay home and paint, write his poetry, and enjoy himself rather than play the Hollywood game. That's an aspect of him that I respect a lot."

Peter Jackson
Movieline Magazine




"After the end of a long day's shooting, when all the other cast would be either in bed or in the bar, [partner and co-screenwriter Fran Walsh] and I would be home grappling with the script for the next week's shooting. At midnight, a nine-page handwritten memo would come rattling through the fax from Viggo, outlining his thoughts about that day's work and the next few days to come. He would suggest passages from the book we should look at. This wasn't an exception - over 15 months it became the rule. In the small hours, it was actually comforting to know there was somebody else out there grappling with the same nightmare that we were."

Peter Jackson
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003




Tony Goldwyn: A Walk on the Moon


"When I saw some of Viggo's work, I thought, that's always who I've had in my head. I realized there is not one other actor anywhere who could play Viggo's part other than Viggo. He has this kind of complexity and mysteriousness to him. He doesn't have to say much and you get a lot."

Tony Goldwyn, Director of A Walk on the Moon
Actor Goldwyn side-stepped cliches for summer of '69 directorial debut
By Robin Blackwelder
SPLICEDwire, splicedonline.com



Ridley Scott: G I Jane


'He is absolutely dedicated to the process,' says Ridley Scott. 'He was constantly revisiting me with questions and notes and suggestions, none of which I ever got tired of.'

Ridley Scott Viggo Mortensen
by Steve Pond,
US Magazine #236, 1997




Phillip Ridley: The Reflecting Skin and Passion of Darkly Noon


'Viggo is one of the few people I've worked with who, I feel, is a true kindred spirit. From the moment we first met - when I was casting The Reflecting Skin in Los Angeles - it was as if we'd known each other all our lives. He understands my work totally. By the time we were doing Darkly Noon I hardly had to give him a word of direction. He knew instinctively what I wanted. '

Philip Ridley at the Tokyo International Film Festival
From "The American Dreams: Two Screenplays by Philip Ridley'
Methuen 1997




José Luis Acosta: Gimlet


"He explores to the infinite, not only the character's emotions but also the wardrobe, all the things. He's so honest and generous,"

José Luis Acosta
Chiaroscuro: Viggo, Light And Dark
By Rocio Garcia
El Pais, Translated by Graciela, Remolina, Sage and Zooey
17 May 2009




Sean Penn: The Indian Runner


"He was dazzlingly committed all the time. He literally brings the kitchen sink for a character. He's an often solitary, very poetic creature, Viggo, and all of that worked [for the movie]."

History Teacher by Missy Schwartz
Entertainment Weekly
August 19, 2005




Jeff Burr: Leatherface: Texas Chain Saw Massacre 111


"Viggo, just like everyone else in the cast was always there, ready to go and had great ideas. Just a joy to work with, and I'm not just saying that. I can guarantee his approach to stuff now is exactly the same as it was then. He's just so committed and he's such a really good guy. All the family members were great."

Interview with Director Jeff Burr
Icons of Fright
by Robg. & Mike C




Renny Harlin: Prison


"I was looking for a young James Dean. Then, Viggo Mortensen walked into the room. I knew almost instantly that he was the one. There was such a charisma about him. I really thought that this film would make him a household name. Unfortunately, since the film wasn't really released theatrically, it took Viggo a little longer to get there, but he still got there eventually."

Review Fix Exclusive: Q & A With "Prison" Director Renny Harlin
Patrick Hickey Jr.
Review Fix
14 February 2013



You will find all previous Quotables
here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Good Films.

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Why I love… Viggo Mortensen's Frank in The Indian Runner


Source: Guardian.
Found By: Chrissie
Chrissie brings us this nice retrospective look at one of Viggo's roles.
Quote:

Mortensen's tortured Vietnam vet outlaw teaches us that while we may be flawed, the only hope is to live a little better

indianrunner20.jpg
© Westmount.
by Rowan Righelato

"I got some skeeter bites that need scratching. How about you and me go fiddle with the hydraulics?"

Not something you'd ever hear George Clooney whisper into his on-screen beau's ear. But then, Viggo Mortensen's Frank in The Indian Runner is no slick Hollywood seducer. Recently returned from Vietnam, Frank is a troubled, angry soul, played utterly convincingly by Mortensen in his first major role.

The Indian Runner (1990) was Sean Penn's first film as writer-director. It's a throwback to the 70s, the golden age of American cinema – rambling, emotional and humanist, but with a sharp, inventive visual style, like a Cassavetes movie shot by Scorsese. Film writer Bill Craske likened the film to a blues ballad for its oscillation between uplifting humour and melancholic despair.

With echoes of Sam Shepard's True West, the story centres on the relationship between Frank and his brother Joe, played by David Morse. Joe is the yin to Frank's yang: moral, loving, responsible. When a drunken Frank tells his brother there are only two kinds of men – "heroes and outlaws" – we are in no doubt as to which brother is which. With those soulful, sloping eyes, Morse conveys Joe's heartbreak at finding himself unable to connect with Frank.

This is a film filled with beautifully observed moments. The way Penn goes into slow motion when Frank's girlfriend Dorothy (Patricia Arquette) leaps across the room to the ringing telephone after waiting for his call, her face alight with joy, her parents sharing an anxious glance. Frank and Joe's father (Charles Bronson) calling Joe in the middle of the night, unable to articulate his loneliness after having lost his wife, trying to hide his pain by telling Joe of some trivial domestic task he thinks his son should do.

What makes these moments so powerful is the authenticity that Penn and his actors imbue them with, a truth most shockingly present during the scene in which Frank requests that Dorothy attend to his mosquito bites, as a way of expressing his amorous mood.

The scene opens charmingly with Frank and the pregnant Dorothy canoodling at home. Frank has a hand on Dorothy's bump, and is talking softly to the baby inside. Seeing the affection between the parents-to-be is reassuring, not least because we see the volatile Frank smiling and relaxed, apparently in a playful mood. Then he suggests fiddling with the hydraulics.

Arquette is perfectly cast, her natural aura of gentle goodness and purity making what follows all the more horrific to watch. At Dorothy's admonishment- "Frank don't talk like that!" - Frank switches. If we weren't so caught up in the film itself, we would be in awe of Mortensen's skill here. His acting is breathtaking, as he builds from disappointment through hurt to a mean sarcasm - "Did I say the wrong thing?" that turns quickly to simmering anger - "Is it that we're strangers? We're not strangers". He is genuinely frightening to watch, the whole scene feels as if we are onlookers at a real-life domestic dispute. By the time Dorothy tells him "I don't know what you're talking about. Let's eat", he is ready to explode.

Frank's floodgates are wide open, and he unleashes a torrent of pent-up hatred on Dorothy, standing over her, glowering, taking handfuls of food from his plate, stuffing it into his mouth and spitting it into her face. "You eat! You. Eat." Even as Lucifer in The Prophecy, Viggo was never nastier.

Central to the drama is the theme of impending fatherhood. The lives of Frank and Joe mirror one another in that, as the film opens, Joe already has a baby, and the story builds towards the birth of Frank's child. My own personal fondness for the film has to do with the birth of my son at around the time the film came out. Indelible in my mind is a shot of a pensive Joe sitting under a tree, his baby playing on the grass beside him. There is something profoundly beautiful about the image, something primal - Morse's bulk dominating the frame, with the tiny infant child crawling around under his worried, watchful eye.

This is a film to love for its unflinching honesty, it's willingness, as Craske puts it, to "investigate human fallibility in all its ugly manifestations". It is to be treasured for its ambition to offer us a true reflection of ourselves, with all our flaws. And finally, for the hope inherent in that act – that from it we might learn to live a little better.

© Guardian News and Media Limited. Images © Westmount.


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Last edited: 16 September 2018 19:34:32