“It was a very emotional and satisfying journey,” admits Viggo Mortensen, who wrote, directed, starred in and composed the score for “Falling,” about a man reckoning with his fractured relationship with his abusive and homophobic father. “I knew it’d be difficult to direct a movie and especially this kind of story. To do it right would be difficult,” he reveals about his labor of love, adding that it was way more satisfying and rewarding … than I ever dreamed it could be. It was just really extraordinary.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Mortensen above.
“Falling” centers on John Peterson, a middle-aged gay man whose father Willis (Lance Henriksen) is suffering from deteriorating dementia, forcing him to sell the remote family farm and move his father to California to live closer to him and his husband Eric (Terry Chen). As the film flashes back to John’s childhood, we learn more about the dominating influence that this bitter and emotionally absent father (played as a younger man by Sverrir Gudnason) has had on John and his sister Sarah (Laura Linney).
SEE Viggo Mortensen movies: 12 greatest films, ranked worst to best
The film poignantly contemplates the complicated relationship between an emotionally stunted father and his pensive and guarded son. It reflects on the pain inflicted on John by his troubled father over the years through each character’s own lens, illustrating how our memories of the past often define our relationships and behavior in the present and future.
“One of the things I wanted to explore is memory. How subjective memory is, you know? It’s a story about memory and communication and how memory forms us,” he explains. “We try to control our past, in a way subconsciously, in order to feel comfortable in the present. I think it’s our past that definitely controls our present. How we choose to remember what happened to us dictates how we behave towards others and how we react to our environment.”
“The broken bonds of affection that used to unite this family and this father and son,” Mortensen contends, “by visiting those memories of times when things weren’t as bad as they are now, even if they are subjective, can help them overcome a part of the pain that they have caused each other.”
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