Los Angeles (dpa) – ‘Lord of the Rings’ star Viggo Mortensen has often impressed with his sensitivity and intensity in front of the camera.

The Danish-American actor has been nominated three times for an Oscar (“Deadly Promises – Eastern Promises”, “Captain Fantastic – Once Wilderness and Back”, “Green Book – A Special Friendship”) – he is now making an emotional debut and powerful. as a director.

The father-son drama “Falling”, in which the 62-year-old also stars, is heavy and disturbing. As a director and screenwriter, Mortensen tirelessly demonstrates the effects of dementia and the drama of a broken family. He plays homosexual pilot John, who lives with his partner Eric and their adopted daughter in Los Angeles.

Her old widowed father Willis (Lance Henriksen) can no longer live alone on his farm. John wants to take her to California, but already on the flight, the embittered man is abusive with hate speech.

A strict and irascible father

He insults his son like a queer and son of a bitch – and that’s still harmless. Flashbacks show Willis as a strict young father, played by Swede Sverrir Gudnason (“Borg / McEnroe”), who lets tender little John shoot ducks to toughen him up early on. His harshness and anger are unbearable, the mother runs away with John and his little sister Sarah.

Laura Linney plays the great Sarah, who can hardly hide her aversion to her father who is incapable of loving. John, on the other hand, takes care of him with patience and kindness, as if he has to prove that he is a “better” father, but in doing so, he is reaching his limits more and more. But between explosive scenes that are difficult to bear, there are also tender moments that are just as close. Mortensen and Henriksen, 81 (“Terminator”, “Aliens”) are touching as a complex father-son duo that hasn’t been seen onscreen for a long time.

Mortensen, who also wrote the music for “Falling” and co-produced the sensitive drama, was inspired by his family history. The own dominant father left the family when he was eleven, Mortensen says in press releases. Parents and other family members have developed dementia. He lived it up close.

It’s not an autobiographical film, but “Falling” could hardly be more personal and disturbing and show the trauma of rejection and disappointed love.

Falling, Canada / Great Britain / Denmark 2020, 112 min., FSK from 12, by Viggo Mortensen, with Viggo Mortensen, Lance Henriksen, Laura Linney