A History of Violence
A History of Violence

 
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Customer Reviews:

  • 3 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    Exceptionally well-crafted scenes of bloodshed (Cronenberg is one of the best directors when it comes to making movie violence seem actually violent) and a stellar supporting turn from William Hurt lift this thriller above the ordinary; it's not a great film, but it is one which will most likely linger in your mind....more info
  • An excellent work - great story with excellent acting

    One of those gems that didn't seem to get all the hype and publicity of the big films - this one is just one of those great finds - good story, acting, production.

    Lots of suspense, all very believable. Any movie buff will enjoy. A thumbs up, check IMDB for the plot synopsis....more info
  • You've gotta be kidding me!
    I just rented and watched this movie, and I seriously can't believe the good reviews it's gotten, and not just from here. It's a movie with a plot so full of holes, it should have been called "Moth-eaten". Dumb overacting, silly scenes between Tom and Edie, and I don't believe for a minute it would have taken so long for the bad guys to find Tom, especially since he was living in a small town! A total waste of time, IMO....more info
  • GRIPPING STORY OF REDEMPTION THAT WILL CHALLENGE YOUR MORAL GAUGE WITH FIENDISH AUDACITY
    Emily Dickinson once said "Hope is that thing with feathers". Woody Allen called his second book "Without Feathers" in clever disagreement. A History of Violence, I suppose, is a thing with feathers too because Cronenberg is as sharp and original as Allen, but he hasn't lost hope. This fine production is an ambient, thought-provoking, and often a downright chilling meditation on the causes of violence and its unexpected yet inevitable ramifications. At its heart, it's a story of faith and forgiveness, of the enduring ability of man to bury his past and start over.

    The film is studded with radiant performances. The always underrated Viggo Mortenson (because I have never once been bored by a film that had him in it) is ideally cast as Tom, a man with the gift of killing, trying to recreate his life as a simple pastoral family man. Looking almost like Gary Cooper but with a dark edge, Mortenson powerfully plays the role right on the balance between decency and denial. Even more impressive is Maria Bello, who simply electrifies as his wife Edie, especially as the revelations transform her existence. A certain stairway scene with Mortenson and Bello brings to life a visceral energy that scorches the screen. Ashton Holmes is terrific as their teenage son Jack, who must tap into his own reserves to tackle a high school bully. William Hurt is surprisingly ferocious and barely resembles the man who bumbled about as a philistine professor in One True Thing. Ed Harris looks more feral than any other persona he has played on screen but is snug in the skin of his character.

    To tell too much more would be to ruin the plot, but suffice it to say that the movie echoes with flashes of unflinching violence that only Cronenberg can pull off without being gratuitous. Don't read too much into laments that it is all too brutal; it isn't. Whatever action there is, is so perfectly placed and shown with such hot-penny realism that the foreboding title falls short of what it promises. This is a distinctly subdued endeavor from the director behind the head explosions in Scanners or the gooey transformations in the 1986 remake of The Fly.

    The screenplay and the pace are a throwback to Client Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies: tranquil, but with sensational interludes flowing naturally when action is necessary. Cronenberg and screenwriter Josh Olson do not slather contrivances to hit home obvious points in their story, and the ending is effectively, hauntingly open-ended. All said and done, it throws down a moral gauntlet about changing one's path in life. The manner in which each character copes with this possibility is richly presented.

    A word for the "Platinum Series" DVD package. It contains one of the best Making Of documentaries I have seen for a major release, an hour-long feature called "Acts of Violence". It is divided effectively into eight bits with particularly thoughtful comments from Cronenberg, Mortenson and Bello. Cronenberg also provides terrific commentary on an alternate audio track, and there are actually two extras related to a deleted fantasy scene that reflects the more typically gory side of Cronenberg's style. Having seen the end product, I must say the editing was spot-on.

    This one is a classic, with a message as hard-hitting, as compassionate as American History X or the Indian film Gardish. Get one for your library if it isn't already in it. Must-watch, must-buy, must recommend on to friends and all those for whom you care. ...more info
  • Multilayered and absorbing
    This is a gem of a movie. It is one of those rare treats that you can enjoy on multiple levels - as a straight forward thriller, or as it is really intended, as something much more thought provoking.
    We start the movie with Tom Stall (Viggo Mortnesen) and his wife played by Mario Bello exhibit all the characteristics of a happy, safe, marriage. Passionate, intimate, good kids etc... Then their world is disrupted, when two bad guys come into the diner where he works. They set out to do nasty things, and Stall is propelled into a brief but highly effective eruption of violence. He is feted as a hero, but we begin to see the changes in his relationship with his son in particular as a result. As the town comes back to normal however, the ever brilliant Ed Harris comes into town. He is convinced Tom Stall is actually someone else altogether, an explanation that fits with the violence we have seen. To say more about the plot would be to deprive you of seeing how things unfold, so I will leave it at that.
    It is in the subtexts that the movie excels - not telling us what we should think, but questioning our own reactions. Is his son right for using more violent means with bullies? Was a little violence necessary to balance his pacifist ways? Is the couples `violent' sex more real than the passion we see near the beginning of the movie?
    As stated by others, it is after the movie ends and you start talking about the movie.. and you WILL start talking about the movie, that you will realise how effective it actually was. The performances are uniformly excellent - Mario Bello brings real credibility to a wife dealing with the changes in her husband, and Ashton Holmes as Tom Stall's son is brilliant. William Hurt is almost unrecognisable in the role of a mob boss teetering on the edge of sanity. And last but not least, Howard Shore gives a muted and perfectly sorrowful score, completely at odds with the violence in a way that helps the movie immensely.
    There is violence, and there is sex, but all tightly controlled and more tense than graphic, and all carefully crafted to service the story. The ending will disappoint you if you tackle this as a mere action movie.. but if you want a real kick off into the whole subject of the influence and effects of violence, then this is a perfect place to start....more info
  • A morality tale worth seeing
    David Cronenberg is not the first person I think of for an action film. But then, despite the movie's name, this isn't an action film. It's parable about all kinds of violence: violence between parent and child, between children, between husband and wife, between brothers, and of course, good old-fashioned violence against people who disagree with you.

    The Stalls are a perfect family. There's hot lawyer wife Edie (Maria Bello), soft-spoken Tom (Viggo Mortensen), and their children: wisecracking teenage Jack (Ashton Holmes) and cute-as-a-button Sarah (Heidi Hayes). Into this perfect family portrait enters violence in the form of bullies at school and thugs who attempt to rob Tom's diner.

    It turns out that Tom has an ugly past he's been trying to keep secret. But when Tom violently repels the robbers and becomes a minor celebrity, his past comes back in force.
    Carl Fogarty (a snarling Ed Harris), a mobster who wants Tom to "go for a drive," shows up at Tom's doorstep, threatening his friends and family. Things spiral downward from there.

    Tom's struggle isn't just about his criminal past. Cronenberg unspools on screen a litmus test of violent scenarios, and then asks the audience each time: Is this okay? The questions start out easy to answer and become increasingly complex. By the time Tom grabs his wife in a violent embrace that turns passionate, we suddenly understand that each person defines their own boundary of when violence is and isn't acceptable. And the morality attached to each act of violence is a fluid thing indeed.

    All the actors pull their weight in History of Violence, except perhaps Hayes--she's no Dakota Fanning, but she acts suitably cute (a little too cute). Everyone else is excellent, from Bello's desperate, hurt looks to Holmes terrified/thrilled rage, to the inimitable Harris as a very scary man. And of course there's Mortensen, who infuses every character with a level of depth with a sad glance.

    By the time Richie Cusack (William Hurt) appears, the violence at home has come full circle. I'm not particular fond of Hurt, but he does an excellent, frightening job here, as a mobster completely bereft of any moral compass.

    This movie poses important questions that challenge American assumptions about violence, similar to how American History X challenged our assumptions about racism. It's in answering those questions that the movie becomes more than action film and transforms into a morality tale worth seeing. ...more info
  • The past catches up with you
    A young MOB killer tries to have a new clean, normal life
    and 20 years later when two small time robber / killers try to
    hurt his diner employees, he reverts to boyhood 'skills'.
    That gets him press and the MOB comes looking for him.
    They find him and his teen age son
    who doesn't fall short of the tree.
    His brother is an east coast boss who tries to kill him when he tries to make peace there,too. Sort of a Shakespeare tragedy of all MOB dead on stage...
    Any ending here can't be classically happy....more info
  • ARAGORN NUDE!
    Tremendous! I am glad to watch Viggo's growth in film.
    He is fast becoming a favorite performer of mine.
    The nude sequence?....grow up, it was a tastfully and perfectly proper piece of action that moved the story to its climax.
    Bravo, Viggo!...more info
  • This movie fails mainly because of dialogue
    The dialogue in this movie is very very dull. Its like the characters in this movie don't know what to say. Tom and Edie Stall are supposed to be a couple that has been married for 20 years? Joey and Richey Cusack are supposed to be brothers? Leland and Billy are supposed to be partners in crime? Jack and Tom Stall are supposed to be father and son? The dialogue isn't real or imaginative; just bad (or the opposite of original)....more info
  • "Pal Joey?"
    The movie was recommended to me so I set it up and after about 15 minutes during which the only thing that happened was a naughty sex scene between the lead man,Tom Stahl and his wife, (who has donned a cheerleader outfit to bring back the youthful moment they didn't share together) ; some then-difficult-to-connect conflicts between his wimpy son and some bullies at school - I finally gave it up as a waste of time. Then, the people who recommended it to me found out! They sadly advised me I had not given it enough time, and since I'm always open to rethink an original impression, I looked at it again. This is how I review it after the break point began to allow the concept of the story to come across:

    Viggo Mortensen does a credible job as the lead character of Tom Stahl - who is carrying a deep secret around with him, believing he has escaped the curse of his family ties to an unsavory association with a crime family. He is suited to the life, all right, but has rejected it as something he wants to escape. He has successfully suppressed and kept under control the demon within him, but that becomes no longer possible as his past catches up with him; sadly it catches up only because he has done a good samaritan act and his picture makes the paper. It isn't long before his new life begins to come apart at the seams when some old contacts come to town to take care of some unfinished business with the man we now suspect is a Joey, not a Tom.

    The heat is turned up and is relentless; his every waking moment is dogged with the knowledge that these two goons are capable of extreme danger to his family in their quest for him. In that regard, Ed Harris carries his role well as the maimed gangster out to exact his revenge, and William Hurt comes in at the end to cap it off as Joey's nasty, sociopathic brother, who has been embarrassed by his little brother's defection.

    As his wife begins to tumble to the truth, she is repulsed; another sex scene of an entirely different variety takes place on a stairwell, sans the cheerleading outfit; and the expression of Tom Stahl suddenly reverts to Joey The Bad Boy in one of the best moments of the film; Mortensen pulls it off extremely well there, it's a total transformation flashing openly upon his countenance as he abandons his charade; because all of it is out of control once more and "everybody who matters KNOWS".

    The curious connection between the son who suddenly breaks under the bullying and severely beats his tormenter past the point of normal self-defense suddenly becomes more viable in your take about the whole thing too. Blood will tell. "We turn into our parents", and the boy learns the truth about both his father and about himself simultaneously.

    The ending is ambiguous; nothing is solved, but nothing has been cut entirely off either. There is a chance, however small, to cling to.

    It doesn't say, but I suspect that the cheerleading outfit has been relegated to the mothballs unit....more info
  • Home town hero
    While somewhat predictable, it's a great movie. I loved it. It keeps you going. I'm glad I have this movie in my collection. My only complaint is the movie was not long enough. I think they should have given us a little more background on Tom,i.e., how he came to be in the
    Witness Protection Program. Well directed and put together. I recommend this movie to people who like action....more info
  • A Minor Classic
    This is another classy film from director David Cronenberg. Its a compelling story of a normal guy running a Coffee bar who's life changes dramtically when some nasty characters turn up late one evening and try and rob the place.

    This is cleverly done, excellently acted, especially by Ed Harris and William Hurt in their supporting roles. The film is concise being just over 90 minutes, and certainly I couldn't predict where it was going. Cronenberg as always directs with his unique style. This film is certainly more mainstream than most of his, but it is in a different class from your average Hollywood thriller.

    Whether the premise of the film is believable or not is irrelevent; this is a great piece of entertainment from the spooky opening right through to the end. The film is probably nearer 5 stars for me, and further viewings will no doubt confirm this.
    ...more info
  • One star too many
    Truly one of the worst films I've ever seen. The people who have posted the same really make sense on this one. Shockingly bad acting, dreadful dialogue, so cliche-ridden there isn't any point in watching it past the first 20 or 30 minutes - you know everything that is going to happen. And those first 20 or 30 minutes set the pace: they crawl by, as we are introduced to the family and their fellow smalltown Mayberry inhabitants, every one of them straight from Central Casting and the prop room. The same sheriff we've all seen a zillion times saying the same lines. The same town, same stoic Reluctant Hero that is the head of America's Stupidest Family unwittingly pursued by the bad guys in black cars - standard fare, all the way down the line. Totally implausible dialogue spoken between family members in nearly every scene. A soundtrack generic as they come, and sound editing that defies any sense of natural dynamics. BTW there is no "twist" in the plot. If you call it a plot. The lack thereof, however, does not dissuade this director from filling the "storyline" with as many non sequiturs as possible. There is no profound message here that hasn't been recycled in hundreds of made-for-TV movies, usually better. I'm quite surprised, as I enjoyed Eastern Promises pretty well....more info
  • Another hit for Cronenberg.........................
    Director: David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt.
    History of Violence is a repugnant bloodbath, which pretty much directs this movie throughout. Tom Stall (Mortensen,) a family man who lives in a small town who becomes a hero after he stops a potentially burglary in his restaurant. Noted for his civil measures, Stall and his family find their lives irretrievably intruded upon, first by the media and secondly by some gangsters who wind up claiming that Stall is a mob guy with a taste for killing.
    This is a Cronenberg, revenge movie that works well, because of the great acting. Each scene is loaded with substantial detail, building up character profiles without cluttering the story with unnecessary dialogue. This is a film enhanced with big issues, big violence, big production, illusions of civilization, sex, death, and in the end what I consider animalistic and harsh, uncaring natures--BUT THE FILM WORKS AND WORKS WELL.
    ...more info
  • Better Than I expected...
    I was under the impression from a viewer of the movie that the acting was bad but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the acting BUT the best thing for me that I got from this flick was the fact that the directing style I was really impressed with. Acting was good but it was the direction that really grabbed my eye and the scenes were just enough and not overly graphic and definitely got the point across. Kudos to this movie and the Title of it is a lot more than it actually shows....more info
  • ending
    The movie was great up till the stupidest ending of a movie I ever saw. Ruined it for me....more info
  • Excellent movie....Beautiful Blu Ray version
    I Love this movie and now that it's in Blu ray...the picture is even sharper and the sound is awesome. I wish there was more deleted scenes like the stair case one!...more info
  • See in Parallel with "Eastern Promises"
    This is an interesting, if brutal, movie.

    In it, Viggo Mortensen plays a Dr. Jekyll who is gradually revealed to be harboring a Mr. Hyde inside.

    The revelation disrupts--although it saves--his family completely. For physical survival, he trades emotional health.

    The movie is a flip of Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises." There, Mortensen plays a Mr. Hyde, a Russian mobster, who is gradually revealed to have a Dr. Jekyll inside.

    "Violence" integrates the emotional (the female) part of the movie with the violent (male) part than "Eastern Promises."

    But both movies do a very good job of contrasting, and interweaving the two incompatible sides.

    Offbeat and disturbing and memorable....more info
  • anyone from Philly barf at this farce?
    two stars primarily because Viggo is theee only decent aspect of the film and almost "gets" the transformation from mundane, humble Indiana married for 20 years but has no clue how to make the bed when his wife is promising something "different?" to some tough guy from who knows where in Philly with the brothers mansion and Richie (Hurt) cannot believe that the Turf n Track is STILL STANDING and it looks like a 5* elegant restaurant and DANG that accent is well, all I can say is FIRE THE NUMBNUTz dialect coach...Ed Harris has seen lol better dayz but you just do not harass an enemy like that when u really mean to whack him....history of violence??? HUH? no correlation IMHO for any type of storyline that provokes insight or follow-up except snapping at threatening situations...if u wanna see great action scenes with double lives...go see TRUE LIES..sorry Viggo luved Hidalgo and have been a fan since WITNESS...the Cronenberg commentary was interesting that he NEVER EVER storyboards....whoa what a concept but I bet he couldn't sleep a wink thinking about all the bloodletting scenes, only time he came alive in the discussion......more info
  • Great commentary!
    The commentary this film has about human nature is stunning! Those seeking the "average" hollywood shoot 'em up or action flick may be disappointed; however, those seeking a film with actual substance and something to talk about later will be in for a treat! This isnt your normal good guy kills the bad guys and it's over movie...it goes far beyond that. The script and cinematography are both great! Also, if you are shunning this film because of the director, think again. (At least it's not David LYNCH... HAHA!... who could NEVER make a film of this caliber!)

    Dont mind the negative reviews, most of which view it as boring. Seems they were expecting something less...the average shoot 'em up, I guess. ...more info
  • Awful...
    I like viggo, but this was just awful. The acting was awful. The dialogue was awful. The required amount of belief that needed to be suspended was tremendous (it was not all that plausible a plot). Pacing could have been better. This was a huge disappointment for me, and I'm still shocked that this got rave reviews in various places. Really, a bad, bad movie. BTW, it has nothing to do with the violence. I don't mind violence :)...more info
  • Bello shines, but reading the review of this movie is almost as good as the film
    Reading the well-expressed reviews here is almost as good an experience as watching the movie itself. I saw the plethora of one-star reviews and thought "oh, these are people who don't know Cronenberg and are turned off by the violence." To the contrary, most of them are Cronenberg fans who feel like he screwed this one up. There's some very good criticism about the flatness of the dialog (Viggo Mortensen's Tom Stall is indeed fairly monosyllabic), the gratuitous nudity (I agree with that - the point where that occurred was fairly odd) and, in general, a healthy skepticism about whatever type of 'message' the four- and five-star reviewers see in this work.

    That aside, I liked - did not love - the film. Honestly, we watched it as a trial run for the upcoming and very intriguing 'Eastern Promises,' which again features Cronenberg directing Mortensen. We figured if we could stomach 'Violence,' we'll pay the $9.75 to catch 'Promises' on the big screen.

    I was happy to see that Maria Bello got a Golden Globe nomination + scooped up some Critic Circle awards. That's justly deserved. She's beautiful and spectacular here - she's got to sell the audience on the revulsion she feels when her husband turns out to be not who she thought. And, wow, does she make that work. She's the movie's standout. William Hurt got an Oscar nomination, but he's got no more than an extended cameo, tinged with some over-the-top hamminess....more info
  • Brutally Overrated
    I came into this movie expecting something engrossing and overall very rewarding, based on the word of what others have said about it. What I saw could only be called a mess. While I think Cronenberg is at many times a competent filmmaker, this is very much a terrible film. My biggest problem with it stems from the wife. She brings an unneccessary and ridiculous level of drama to every scene she's in, and really distracts from the plot. I wouldn't say that the film drags at any part, but what it does is ignore the aspects that would be the most interesting to the viewer. I was left wanting a lot more fight sequences, and possibly more interaction with the sheriff. It's sad that him and the brother were pushed aside in the story, as they could've in my opinion, saved the film from being a trainwreck. Bottom line, if you want to watch a good Cronenberg movie, give this a pass and check out some of his older stuff like Videodrome....more info
  • A modern masterpiece, but not for everyone.
    A lot has been written alread to discribe the plot and ideas of the film. I wish to only add that I consider this film a masterpiece. Yes, it is arguably too long, perhaps some unnecessary sex, unnecessary violence, but IMO, these are all within limits and not excessive and do contribute to the story.
    The acting, filming, and themes are of film are amazingly well done. IMO, a modern masterpiece!
    Highly recommended, but not to everyone. ...more info
  • A History of Violence
    I had seen this movie before, but wanted to own it. It will always be up there as one of my all time favorite movies. It has everything--action, violence (but not gratuitous), sex and a storyline that really makes one think about how we view violence, when it seems acceptable and who really is the "bad guy." The sex scene on the stairs was erotic without being "trashy." Very believable. ...more info
  • Entertaining indeed with a surprise ending
    I really enjoyed this movie because it was well written, and was very believable.

    I rate it a 4 because of the way the movie ended.

    I won't give that part away; I'll let you see it for yourself.

    Give it a shot. It's worth the price, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

    Also remember this when reading a critic's critique: A critic is one with NO talent, judging those WITH talent.

    --James Michael Collins--
    ...more info
  • See It For Harris And A Handful Of Masterful Scenes
    While on the whole, I found this movie mixed on many levels, from logic to some of the performances. However, there are about 8 scenes in here to me that are some of the most compelling in recent memory; The kind you rewatch again and think about days after seeing them. The ones involving conflict or payback are top notch, as are some of the more 'human' ones; But for example, I found the 'bully' stuff kind of 'ABC Afterschool Special'-like, but found the end result of that storyline very satisfying; Also in the like, I found the confrontation between Viggo and Harris(w/goons by his side...)brilliant, but the other end w/Hurt not so much. It was almost like you wished the movie had ended with the more powerful scene, not that the other wasn't creative. It just had less of an impact. I remember thinking after the Viggo/Harris scene that the movie had to be almost over. And I would have to say I felt the story started to drift a little more aimlessly after that paticular sequence. But there's no doubt all involved are highly talented and present an overall powerful film; Harris steals the movie, and Cronenberg proves when given the right material he can really show these younger directors how things are done. Oh, it seems there was also alot more sex than violence in this movie, or maybe just about even. ...more info
  • Horrible
    Where to start? Let's see...you live in a small town and in the process of saving your friends during a robbery, you become a hero covered by the media. The mob sees you, and comes looking for you. You play dumb when face to face with the mob boss that you injured, stating "that wasn't me!" Then...then, you resume your normal life and expose your family and friends to the wrath of the mob instead of coming clean with your wife that you've in the witness protection program and heading for higher ground.

    This movie made no sense. And to add to the horrible plot, the dialog was horrendous. Everything was predictable and unbelievable. None of us, if presented with the scenario of this movie, would act the way that Johnny, er Joey Cusack did.

    Let's not even get started on Joey telling his boy that their family doesn't handle thigns by hitting, and then he slaps the kid. Then Joey rapes/strangles his wife.

    Pass this stinker bye and purchase something else....more info
  • Possibly Cronenberg's best film
    I finally got round to seeing this (on telly) and it's a great movie. Thoughtful, thought-provoking, unflinching. Cronenberg uses the theme of violence to explore other topics such as love, loyalty and redemption (notably all the family wear crosses). Excellent film, with great central performances from the always good Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen....more info
  • Cronenberg's History is Better Than This
    I've got no problem with movie violence and there is plenty of rapid fire,neck breaking, high adreniline nastiness here. Well filmed and seemingly full of trhills and promise, this film falls in that it kills off the notable antagonists before we get to develop a good hatred for them,then adding insult to injury, director Cronenberg barely explains it at all with a convoluted real identity/past life yarn.Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom Stall,a mild mannered diner owner in small town Indiana who's quiet life unravels after a violent confrontation with two armed robbers.
    Maria Bello wins as Mortensens sexy wife,Ed Harris places with a good faux Philly mob accent, John Hurt shows up but delivers a very unimpressive role as a heavyweight....more info
  • HISTORY OF A GREAT MOVIE
    I loved this movie, i found it riviting. Im not a huge fan of Mortensen but i thought he was fantastic in this, the whole movie spins off of his great performance. I also loved William Hurts performance, he went totally against type, I laughed so hard. My friend recommended this, and i could not look away, i was revited by this movie, from start to finish. Great film, I highly recommend it, and im picky as hells...whom ever game this review an unhelpful is an idiot straight up....more info
  • Good movie
    I personally liked this movie but some may not. It's one of those movies you may want to rent to see if you like it first....more info
  • Average Cronenberg fare
    This movie tries too hard to be too many things at once. If your goal is to be entertained and have a few puzzling moments--and if you don't mind some horrendous murders happening very quickly every now and then--give it a go. Otherwise, director David Cronenberg (who is brilliant but never quite reached the level of David Lynch, who he imitates too much)
    hit a real low point with this.

    The performance by Viggo Mortensen is fantastic and chilling as hell. You literally cannot get a grasp on the essence of this kind and when you do just want to back off. IS he a reformed, average, timid man who has undergone some inexplicable kind of internal transformation of his own accord, or is he a mafia psychopath in raging denial just waiting to froth over? He is both in a way.

    Unfortunately this can't save the rest of the film, with embarrassingly obvious symbolism and a kind of schizoid confusion that should have been restricted to the characterization of Tom/Joey, not the sequencing of scenes and dialogue.

    The surreality Cronenberg attempts right from the beginning is interrupted by Tom/Joey's relationship with his wife and family. It isn't intriguingly confusing, just annoying. The scenes in which we see "what lies beneath" with Tom/Joey are frightening indeed and well done, yet the whole gangster bit comes across with about as much as reality as a film with James Cagney.

    Cronenberg is trying to make some kind of commentary on Americans and their attraction/repulsion to violence but it doesn't succeed because it is too short and too mediocre. This isn't "Dead Ringers" or even "Mulholland Drive" where you don't understand anything and then, day by day, you begin to understand it and watch it repeatedly. It isn't that rich. It sucks when a film has great potential and a great plot, then goes down the tubes slowly....more info
  • rather graphic, but then that is how it is named
    This is a good and interesting film that examines how a violent past can come back to haunt the perpetrator, no matter how hard he tried to overcome it and forge a new identity. With the exception of the denouement, the violent scenes are briefer than the sex ones and none of it feels gratuitous. While I could have done without the closeups of smashed noses and shredded faces, it does bring it home. But the theme of the film - how the psychology of the entire family is affected when secrets are revealed - makes this unusual and special. The actors are simply wonderful as well. Recommended....more info
  • Good Performances, Very Stupid Plot
    I will say the performances in this movie, particularly by Mortensen, Ed Harris and William Hurt are excellent. But c'mon, this movie is absurd. First, how can a "hitman" who has been out of commission for nearly 20 years somehow remember all these moves and execute them perfectly without a training regimine that would create at least some suspicion among his family?! Give me a break. This movie is ridiculous....more info
  • We never truly know people
    So much has been written about this film and the title. For most, the movie is about the way violence is encoded in our lives and how we all have an underlying current running through us. I think the movie is really the study of the relationship between the two main characters--Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and Edie (Maria Bello).

    These two actors are amazing the film, especially Bello, who deserves to become a household name. Their intereactions are always spot on as they drive the plot. The sideways glance, the tense look, the loving smile: every part means something.

    These two characters are madly in love after seventeen or such years of marriage, and we see it through different ways. The first half of the movie is there to set up their relationship and the love they feel. But then everything is turned upside down, and we realize that these two people who have shared everything and love one another dearly really know nothing about what lies beneath. It's as if they have only shared a part of themselves.

    It's this interaction and realization that makes the film so great. The plot almost seems beside the point; it's merely there to make use see the characters.

    I give the film four stars instead of five because of some of the scenes were out of place, almost as if Cronenberg couldn't decide what kind of film to make. William Hurt is good at the end, for instance, but his character didn't fit. Watch the movie for the main characters' interactions and go along with the rest....more info
  • Beware of people in black Cadillac Escalades
    "Horror-meister" David Cronenberg (AKA "King of Venereal Horror," or "the Baron of Blood") began directing movies in the sixties, mostly made-for-TV fare, and then moved to the big screen in the seventies with some forgettable scifi/horror flicks. But then in the eighties he perfected his art (if you can call it that: I prefer to call it "the cynical seduction of the audience by playing upon their worse fears," but, hey, I never had to make a living in filmland) with e.g., Scanners (1981), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), etc. Here he settles for plain, ordinary two-fisted psycho/mobster/killer-type violence.

    Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom Stall who runs a diner in a small midwestern town, a likeable guy with a wife Edie (Maria Bello) and two kids. He's just your average joe until one day some cold-blooded killers visit his diner and decide to rape and pillage. Tom manages to take their guns from them and send them to meet their maker in a bit of surprising heroics that draws the attention of some mobsters from Philadelphia. They apparently think Tom is a onetime mobster/hit man named Joey Cusack who had done them some grievous harm in the past. They want revenge. The question is, have they got their man or is this a tragic case of mistaken identity? Interesting premise.

    (Possible spoilers to come, so proceed at your own risk.)

    There is one thing especially wrong with this movie and that is the adamant reaction of Tom Stall's family when they learn the truth. I can't say more without revealing too much plot detail, but for those who have seen the movie, you may know what I am saying. His family, regardless of what they learned, could not help but be one hundred percent on his side. The most they should have said is, "You should have told us" and yet even that is too much. They should come to the realization of what kind of man he is as the audience does, slowly and only after the final scenes. This is the kind of cinematic mistake that directors sometimes make. They are completely familiar with the material. They know how it ends and so they sometimes put their characters in the frame of mind that their characters would have if their characters knew everything the director knew. But Edie and the kids did not know who their father really was even after the scene when the black Cadillac Escalade pulls up into their yard. I know if my spouse or father had been such a good man for so many years, I would not turn on him just because he kicked a bit too much tail a bit too successfully, especially when saving other people's lives.

    Otherwise this is a kind of brilliant movie. The ending is perfect. The psychology is straight out of evo psych; a kind of forbidden truth is told on several levels, and when all is said and done, the little girl goes and gets the plate and the silverware, and the son passes the roast to his father. What else is there to be done? One can imagine that this is how it is and has been for tens of thousands of years in the household of the warlord, the house of the man who managed to survive--never mind how. Such is the nature of human beings.

    There are a couple of very true to life sex scenes in this movie that will be too much for people who have cliche ideas about sex or like to kid themselves a lot. Again those of you who have seen the movie will know what I am talking about: well, the one in which Edie says we never experienced high school together is one of them. The scene on the staircase is the other. They are both well done.

    The redeeming factor for the hero is that we never see him do anything except in self-defense. He has an amazing ability to protect himself and to put those who attack him out of their misery. It's almost comic book, cowboy movie quality. Yet I think Cronenberg made it so realistic that you almost believe it could happened. Mortensen's character is part of the hero/superman/ninja/two-fisted/John Wayne type of guy who can win a barroom fight against a half dozen other men, a guy who can beat a trio of armed toughs, stripping them of their weapons and using them against them because he is quicker and more deadly. A nice bit of supporting psychology is all of the business with the son and the school bully. The way the son handles him actually supports the violent-hero mythology: like father, like son. It's in the blood.

    The title of the film suggests a documentary. But if you think instead about something that somebody would say about an individual's past you'll see that the title is apt.

    Nice supporting work by Ed Harris and William Hurt. But let's face it, this is an R-rated movie without much in the way of redeeming social value, and is in fact a very nice seduction of its targeted audience, which is what one would expect from Cronenberg....more info
  • So Bad I Paused It To Warn You
    I'm 18 minutes into the movie and it's so bad I put it on pause to come and warn you not to waste your time or money.

    I'm embarrassed for the actors. No chemistry, pathetic dialogue, all around dull acting. No one is convincing or interesting.
    I don't think any story line, whatsoever, could redeem this, but I'll give it 5 more minutes (I want to somehow feel the money wasn't a complete waste) then I will probably end up reading a book.

    This is one for which you simply can not trust the 4 and 5 star ratings....more info
  • cliche
    It's not a bad movie per se, but it does boarder on being pretentious, a trend which starts at the title. With a name like "A History of Violence" you expect some profound exposition on the nature of violence in society, and this movie doesn't deliver. The notion of a former fighter forced into a situation where he has to resume his violent ways is far from a novel one. I could list several Westerns, spy movies, and comic books that have a similar plot, and I'm sure you could too.

    The fact that the bad guys in this movie, from the over the top high school bully stereotype to the psychotic restaurant killers, are almost too bad to be believed helps to push this movie more into the category of escapist entertainment. (Then again, reading the news recently, I guess you should never underestimate the capacity for human evil.)

    But still, the questions this film raises are almost clich¨¦. "What would you do if someone threatened your family at gun point? Could you justify violence then?" I think most of us have been in several discussions about this hypothetical situation ever since middle school or before. I recall several religion classes and youth group discussions devoted to this hypothetical growing up. I suppose it's a question that deserves consideration, even if it is a tired clich¨¦, but this movie adds nothing to the debate.
    ...more info
  • cronenberg attempts to minimalize style
    seems like dave put asthetics on the backburner for this so that the story could ring true through the characters instead;a cool move.performances good,story good,music decent.not cronenberg's best but still a kneck above the usual theater trash!...more info
  • Thought Provoking
    The title may be off putting for some but this movie is a deep and intense look inside the human mind. Does the situation one is born into - a crime family of sorts - mean that that is the only option open to us or can we (at great personal risk) try to forge a better and more decent life for ourselves? I really felt for Tom and also for his family. The reactions were genuine and true to the drama. I had never seen Viggo in anything so this was an unknown factor for me. Since, Eastern Promises also shows his range. Maria Bello gives a wonderful and honest portrait of what could have been a one sided role as wife. All in all, very thought provoking and a real gem....more info
  • golden violence
    When you hear the title "History of Violence" you probably think of some kind of documentary focusing on history between people from all over the world. Well, it's not that. This is just a movie that focuses on one family where the wife, husband, son and daughter seem to disagree with each other on many occasions, and in fact, it stretches beyond the family. Some of the scenes were truly unbelievable in a graphic kind of way, such as a certain something that happens on the stairs of the home. The violence actually kicks in pretty heavily towards the end, but without spoiling anything, I'll just leave it at that. It's not a classic film, but it's dark and quiet tone makes it worth watching....more info
  • Violence is as violence does
    Small-town diner owner Tom Stall stops a brutal robbery by overcoming two thugs with a sudden bravery and surprising skill that make him a hero to his fellow townspeople. The ensuing media spotlight draws the attention of a Philadelphia mobster with a mutilated face, who insists that Tom is not who he says he is. The question of identity posed by the visiting mobster is the central theme of "A History of Violence."

    Tom appears on the surface to be the decent, ordinary guy his family and fellow townspeople have known for years. Yet disturbing clues about a different personal history surface as Fogarty, the visiting mobster, and his henchmen begin to stalk Stall and his family, finally provoking two violent confrontations, first in Stall's hometown and then in the City of Philadelphia. A second and haunting question posed at the end of the film is whether Stall's wife and children can live with the complex answer to the first question of Tom's identity.

    "A History of Violence" is superbly cast, with Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall, Maria Bello as his wife, Ed Harris as the mutilated mobster Fogarty, and William Hurt in an Academy Award-nominated turn as another Philly mobster.

    This movie is highly recommended to those looking for an intriguing plotline and with the stomach for a fairly violent film....more info
  • Is the Past Really the Past?
    Tom Stall runs a diner in a small town. He is well liked by the people and well loved by his family. His stock goes up even more when he thwarts a violent hold up in his diner by killing the two criminals.

    But the news coverage gets the attention of even more violent thugs from Philadelphia, thugs who claim that Tom Stall was known other than the former gangster Joey Cusack. Tom vehemently denies the charges, but over the course of the film, you learn that there is nonetheless a history of violence.

    The acting is great, the plot is disturbing, and the conclusion will have you thinking for a long time. I thought it was a well made movie....more info
  • absolutely terrible
    I have no idea why people like this. When it comes to comic book movies, I always try to read the book first, and I LOVED "A History of Violence" (the graphic novel), so I thought I'd love this movie.

    Boy was I wrong. The plot is like a spoof of the book. There's no real captivating moments or tension; events just happen bam-bam-bam. Viggo acting "crazed" actually had me laughing AT the character. The villains are terrible; again seeming more like a spoof of a real movie. I'm supposed take this seriously?

    There are TWO too-long sex scenes that I ended up fast-forwarding through because they were BORING and POINTLESS. If I wanted to watch extremely watered-down with-your-clothes-on sex, I'd turn around in the movie theater. The scenes had nothing to do with the plot, and I do not recall such tedious moments in the book.

    The ending was also terrible. The ending itself was stupid and cliche and the acting was again absolutely laughable. I've seen better portrayals of "scary crazy man" in high school musicals.

    Apparently, a lot of people have a different opinion somehow. My advice? If you haven't seen it and want to, find a friend to borrow it from first, so you don't end up wasting money on a horrible movie....more info
  • Leisurely Paced And Subtle
    Not the sort of desscription you'd expect from a typical thriller these days. Not a car chase in sight, no explosions and certainly not an action/adventure film. And hardly a happy, predictable ending either. So what exactly do we have?

    The answer is a very good psychological thriller with a mobster background underlying the plot, but this is really of secondary importance. The whole film centres around an apparently happily married family man carving out a modest living for some years as a diner proprietor. But as the film draws you in, it eventually becomes clear there is a lot more going on beneath the surface of our humble protagonist than he is letting on. So it is basically a story of a man who had a secret past that by some sheer bad luck was to catch up with him, just when he thought the ghost of that past was safely buried.

    David Cronenberg always makes interesting films, but AHOV is quite a departure from his familiar science fiction/horror projects over the last 3 decades. There is some gore present but a lot less than what Cronenberg fans have been used to. Instead, we have an absorbing plot and fine acting all round to keep this viewer and I suspect a lot more thriller fans totally engrossed.

    Definitely recommended....more info
  • Mainstream Cronenberg
    David Cronenberg (The Fly (Two-Disc Collector's Edition), Videodrome - Criterion Collection) is an artful and masterful director. There's no denying it. The man behind such films as Dead Ringers - Criterion Collection, Naked Lunch - Criterion Collection and Shivers comes with this film, a stark difference from his fist films of the century.

    A History of Violence is about a man who, after becoming a local hero, is hounded by a couple of mobsters who believe he is someone else.

    The strength in this movie isn't the script alone, it's the directing of one David Cronenberg. A movie that you should see, maybe it'll spark your interest in the often overlooked David Cronenberg.

    The DVD includes a commentary from the director, a few featurettes going over every aspect of the filmmaking, a "Too Commercial for Cannes" feature, a deleted scene, and the behind the scenes of that deleted scenes.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • perfect
    What a great movie! Viggo Mortensen was superb at showing what is going on in Tom Stall's head, in very subtle shades. Maria Bello plays the perfect counterpoint as his thoroughly believable wife - fine, fine acting. The casting is perfect throughout, and the acting is what carries this whole thing forward. I didn't want to see this movie because I don't normally enjoy movies with graphic violence, but this one was different. 5 stars all the way! I don't know why this movie is getting low reviews, must be the old art movie vs action movie expectation or something. This is one is art.
    ...more info
  • As Good As This Kind of Movie Gets
    Directed by David Cronenberg and starring Viggo Mortensen (Tom Stall), Maria Bello (Edie Stall), Ed Harris (Carl Forgerty) and a cameo performance by William Hurt (Richie Cusack), "A History of Violence" is as good as this kind of movie gets. Tom Stall, a mild-mannered family man with a wife and two children, runs a small diner in a small Midwestern town. His peaceful life is changed forever when he becomes a local and national hero after taking out two goons who try to rob him at gunpoint. Even if one had not seen the trailers for this movie previously, he would be suspicious of the shooting prowess of Stall. He and his family are soon visited by Carl Forgerty and company who accuse him of being someone else, Joey Cusack of Chicago. Much of the plot is predictable from this point forward as Stall has to deal with his past that he thought was buried forever. There is enough murder and gore to satisfy the most blood-thirsty of viewers. On the other hand, the film rises above the typical blood-and-guts crime movie as there are nice twists in the plot and the Stall family members to a person are real people that we care about, including the angelic daughter (Heidi Holmes) and her teenaged brother (Ashton Holmes) who has his own violent streak to contend with. The ending is really quite moving.

    There is some terrific acting here by Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and Ed Harris and the small but dynamite performance by Willaim Hurt as Tom/Joey's brother Richie. If I had to describe the film in one word it would be "chilling." ...more info
  • ifviolence
    if you like violence then this is the movie to watch. action packed with violence. Very good movie....more info
  • A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
    David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" has become of my favorite movies of the decade so far. The sex scene between Mario Bello and Viggo Mortensen on the staircase has all but become legendary. Just watching it makes my back hurt. That must have been so uncomfortable but still sexy. The great thing about having this DVD is that you can watch the scene over and over.

    The story is very simple but really effective. A man hiding his identity is found out by the thugs he is hiding from, just because of an act of bravery which got him on TV. They come and try to destroy his new life. Really not bad. I don't know why so many people don't like this movie....more info
  • Loved it!
    Interesting story, excellent actors!
    I don`t understand how people say the story or the dialogues are dull,
    for me they were realistic....more info
  • A Mixed History
    After reading all the rave reviews received by A History of Violence, I was a little disappointed when I saw the film. The first part has the power of things hidden under the surface. But once you find out the truth about Tom Stall, the movie quickly falls apart. As nice as it was seeing William Hurt (where has he been all these years?) the subplot with him was so over the top, it was a little silly....more info
  • What a movie!!!
    Anybody who seriously believes the all-important "wow" factor has gone missing from certain movies lately can now finally end their drawn-out disputes. "A History of Violence," put mildly, blew me clear out of my chair! David Cronenberg has totally redefined the action genre and shaped it into something all his own.

    He casts Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall, a quiet family man and small-town diner owner who quickly becomes a reluctant hero after decisively silencing two would-be thieves. This story soon draws the heated attention of mobster Carl Fogarty who, along with his loyal followers, seems to feel that Tom may somehow be linked to their organization's shady past. As these men begin to methodically encircle Tom's frightened family, tensions rise and personal suspicions skyrocket. Is Tom Stall really the loving, dedicated husband and father he so adamantly professes? Or has his forgotten and abandoned prior life come back to haunt him in ways he could never possibly imagine?

    Discovering the answers to those two questions are what ultimately makes experiencing this barn-burner of a motion picture so much unapologetic fun! I cannot truthfully remember the last time a movie like this generated so much adrenaline-fueled excitement. The principal performers, between Mortensen, the wonderful Ed Harris, and William Hurt, are all standouts. But the pacing is absolutely phenomenal. This is a movie that very literally flies off the screen. Cronenberg throws so much at you throughout the entire film's 96-minute running time, and yet you're still left hungering for more. The violence is straight-ahead and in-your-face. It more than earns its coveted "R" rating.

    As far as the DVD, itself....you couldn't ask for a better package. The "Acts of Violence" documentary, along with three other featurettes, does an exceptional job at breaking down the deeply-layered particulars of the film. And you even get to hear Cronenberg, himself, interject his own thoughts as they relate to the film's storied production.

    This is an overall great movie and one you're not likely to forget anytime soon. I know I certainly won't!
    ...more info
  • BORING
    This movie was so dull and dry!!! It was boring from start to finish. With the exception of the sex scenes between Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello!!, and the fight scenes with the son and that stupid jock!!! Either than that it was corny as hell!!!...more info

 

 
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