A History of Violence (2005)

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A ordinary, mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off a chain of events and consequences that will shake his family to its very core.

This film, like all Cronenberg’s work, is a mythic movie. It occupies the world of “monsters” that Tom Stall’s daughter dreams about at the start. It’s as if we get to see the little girl’s nightmare as the film unfolds. It’s because of this poetic, super-real quality that criticisms from the “this isn’t real life” brigade have no relevance. The screenplay is exceptionally tight and well-woven – no image is wasted. The subplot of the son’s troubles with a school bully parallels the main plot. The very existence of the son is there to show the inheritance – the history – of violence. The sex scenes are there to show the proximity of lust and violence. I expected bloody senselessness and instead saw a film laden with the deepest human emotions. It was real. From youthful loving to hard violence, from simple innocent joys to the full depth of adult violence and sex, and ultimate redemption, this film has it all. Every piece of clothing and set, every camera angle and lighting propelled the story relentlessly. I was never bored, and never overwhelmed with overdone violence. Nothing was gratuitous. Viggo Mortensen proved he’s one of the finest actors to come along in a long while. Maria Bello carries so much on her talented shoulders. With Mortensen she shines with alternately warming and heartbreaking truthfulness. Ed Harris was delightfully menacing, and William Hurt gave the liveliest and best performance I’ve seen from him. This movie is about truth and redemption. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Kudos to Cronenberg, Mortensen, Bello, and all the cast and crew for what was for me a damn-near perfect movie.
See it, then see it again. It’s brilliant.
8/10

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