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A Mash Note from the Toronto Film Festival: Alas, Poor Viggo

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET

When I am sleepless in my Toronto hotel room, my thoughts turn to Viggo Mortensen. And, perhaps unlike other women at the film festival, I pity poor Viggo. Sure, like them, I would easily opt for Viggo over Clive Owen, who's also somewhere here in Canada, undoubtedly at a better hotel and, perhaps, still awake behind the barriers at an exclusive party.

I know it's counterintuitive to pity Viggo in the dark. I saw his sinewy, tattooed, naked Russian mobster Nikolai in David Cronenberg's brilliant Eastern Promises. My visceral reaction was to tear off my clothes and rush toward the screen - equally naked, tattoo-free, bravely baring two c-section scars. Wouldn't that have startled Roger Ebert!

But here's the thing: Viggo has set the sexual bar so high, he must feel compelled to perform like a prize athlete, like Lance Armstrong, every night (or twilight, as the case might be). It's a burden to have to have such champion sex. How would he, could he manage the simpler sex of everyday marriage? Would he be able to do 'honey, I'm 38 and ovulating, and we'd better just fertilize my old egg this time or we're off to the fertility clinic?'

Imagine the Mortensen mortification in confessing that he was just knackered that night - and in no mood to perform Herculean sex. Could he offer up the virtual keys to his partner, wearily urging her to get on top, take the wheel and sex-drive, while he semi-dozed below? Would he be able to say: 'sweetie, just don't dent the vehicle, please, I have an early shoot?'

Or could he manage the Sunday brunch clutch in front of the big-screen TV between Meet the Press and the ball-game; fumbling for, finding and removing the remote control from under his wife's ribs when the TV starts to sizzle on some unauthorized channel?

It's as if anything less than the rip-snorting scene in A History of Violence would be too little, too late. I breathe deep with the memory of that startling conjugal moment, where Viggo's retired enforcer passionately, brutally bangs his wife (the aroused but frightened Maria Bello) on the narrow stairs of their house. He leaves her bruised and battered and satisfied in corners of her being she didn't know existed until that moment. I confess to uncrossing my legs and craving a cigarette afterwards.

But, Viggo, I'm fully aware that wildly imaginative, athletic, earth-shattering sex is a lot to live up to on a daily basis. I have seen you on screen wearing only your gulag tattoos and, like so many other women, wanted more, more than any average mortal man can give.

So, I pity you, but would show no more mercy than your Nikolai dispatching with a corpse. Don't think for a moment in my fantasies we do anything as mundane as shutting our Russian novels in unison, placing them on identical bedside tables, and falling into each other in the familiar valley at the center of our marital bed.

OK, I wouldn't refuse that either. Pity me.

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