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David Cronenberg's 2005 thriller about a family man who may have a dark past as a killer.

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Excuse me for moment, I must clear my nasal passages ...

  • Nov 8, 2008
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I was anxious to watch 'A History Of Violence' because I had heard it was quite, well, violent. While there are two very exceptionally gross scenes, the violence unfortunately didn't fit it with the rest of the movie. For the most part, 'A History Of Violence' is a rather boring movie that takes a long time to get going.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) owns a diner in the quiet, rural town of Millbrook, IN, has a beautiful wife and two well-behaved children. When two thugs enter his diner with intent to cause violence, Tom takes them out with skill and finesse (along with the first gruesome scene). Now a local hero splashed across the news, the diner is running full speed when another thug named Fogarty (Ed Harris) shows up, acting strange and calling Tom by the name Joey Cusack.

As Fogerty stalks Tom and his family, he reveals more and more about the Joey Cusack he is looking for, and Tom's claims that he is not Joey become weaker. Also looking for Joey is Philly mob-boss Richie Cusack (John Hurt), Joey's brother, but why does Richie want to find Joey so badly?

There are two love scenes in the film between Edie Stall (Mario Bello) and husband Tom that are awful. The first during the long, boring stretch at the beginning of the film, attempting to indicate what a loving husband and father Tom is, was so silly and contrived that I didn't know whether to laugh or throw up. The second, rougher scene on the steps only left me yawning and wondering why Edie didn't have more bruises on her back later that night.

The overall feeling of the movie was that the entire film went overboard on both the calm and the cruelty in an effort to instill more shock value to Tom's flashes of brutality. It failed, simply because it tried too hard. A more balanced flow throughout the film would have made a better movie. The ending to the film is flat and lifeless, horribly trite, cheesy, and abrupt.

Still, 'A History Of Violence' manages to wring three stars from me for the efforts of Ed Harris, Maria Bello, John Hurt, and Viggo Mortensen for performing their roles well in spite of the script, and for the two gruesomely bloody scenes involving a jaw and a nose. Strawberry jam, anyone?
A History Of Violence

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January 26, 2009
I'd be interested in what you thought the end of the movie meant. There was a bit more to it you know. Its interesting that after Tom virtually rapes his wife on the staircase, your reaction is to idly wonder why she doesn't have more bruises later on.
December 09, 2008
Intriguing idea. Violence does cause adrenaliine rushes. Good point, thanks for the comment. --Schtinky :)
December 09, 2008
A very thoughtful review, but I always thought that the film was intentionally trying to go overboard with Tom's actions. I read the point as: once you start acting violent, you become addicted to the rush of it. It almost seemed as if Tom and the family were intentionally trying to court danger after getting a taste of it. That's what I thought made the movie so thoughtful.
More A History of Violence (2005 fi... reviews
review by . April 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Nature of violence is a dark and dangerous path down the road to death and sorrow....
For as long as humanity has existed we have always been violent we may have not been created that way  but somewhere down the line  we found out that violence  could save us or destroy us. It all depends on if we choose to use violence as a means of salvation or as a means of destruction in David Cronenberg's blunt yet very insightful film raises thought provoking and shocking questions about the true nature of violence and how it can affect some and change others. how sometimes …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A movie in two halves. A world in two halves too. Nicely delineated. Cleverly done.
review by . December 23, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
WARNING: This film contains strong brutal violence, graphic sexuality/nudity, explicit language, and brief drug use.       In the film A History of Violence, director David Cronenberg (Videodrome and Crash) examines America's fascination with violence. At the same time, both compelling and disturbing, the film shows the way that violence affects the residents of a small town in the Midwest. Utilizing his sense of irony, as well as his cinematic ability to create suspense, Cronenberg …
review by . April 29, 2009
This is one of those movies that seems to start off as a powerhouse and then peters off where the director was not sure where to take it and the movie seems to feel more like a long Sopranos episode than a feature length film.     Tom Stall runs a diner in a small Indiana town with his wife. Tom is the "nice" guy with the adoring wife that works with him and two children that everyone in the town "knows." One day there is trouble in the diner which causes Tom to get into a fight …
review by . March 06, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: That the dvd didn't come with something sharp to harm myself with.      Cons: That the dvd didn't come with something sharp to harm myself with.      The Bottom Line: Not the worst movie ever, but it would be on an top ten for most dull.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot.      Never have I been so bored by a movie where so many people die.      …
review by . December 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of those movies that seems to start off as a powerhouse and then peters off where the director was not sure where to take it and the movie seems to feel more like a long Sopranos episode than a feature length film.    Tom Stall runs a diner in a small Indiana town with his wife. Tom is the "nice" guy with the adoring wife that works with him and two children that everyone in the town "knows." One day there is trouble in the diner which causes Tom to get into a fight …
review by . July 21, 2006
Viggo Mortensen takes off his cowboy hat from "Hidalgo," his sword from "LOTR," and trades them in for a shotgun, a number of handguns, and a few swift punches to the throat to flesh out his role of Tom Stall in "A History Of Violence." The flick starts off with a bit of a surprise, then uses the next twenty or so minutes to build up the monotony, simplicity, and happiness of Stall's life. He has a perfect wife, Edie (Maria Bello), a good son (Ashton Holmes), and an innocent daughter (Heidi Hayes). …
review by . March 22, 2006
The idea that a movie with graphic depictions of murder could also be deep and incredibly interesting didn't cross my mind until I saw "A History of Violence." I understand now why David Cronenberg chose to direct it; his films are nothing if not bizarre and over the top, but they also have an underlying complexity that makes them fascinating to watch. Maybe that's because he chooses stories that focus primarily on the dark recesses of the human mind and the realities they create for the individual. …
review by . March 17, 2006
Too many times I've watched a movie expecting greatness and not getting that. I just knew A History Of Violence would be good but it only met some of my expectations. Although it will keep you entertained you might get mad at it lacking some realness. It may look real but trust me it doesn't look real enough and it goes on for the entire movie. For example when Tom saves his diner and the people in it he hits one of the robbers in the face with a pot of coffee and it's so obvious it's digitalized. …
review by . March 16, 2006
In "A History of Violence," director, David Cronenberg, creates a masterful study of the human psyche adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke. Performances by Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ashton Holmes, Ed Harris and a particularly enjoyable one by William Hurt intensify from one frame to the next, bringing to life the simple plot line that unfurls a deeper metaphor with as many tasty layers as an Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion.     Rather …
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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About this movie


Starring Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt
Directed by David Cronenberg
Writer:  John Olson (screenplay)

Product Description
An average family is thrust into the spotlight after the father (Viggo Mortensen) commits a seemingly self-defense murder at his diner.

Canadian director David Cronenberg, whose impressive oeuvre includes such disparate works as THE DEAD ZONE, THE FLY, DEAD RINGERS, M. BUTTERFLY, and SPIDER, has made what might be the best film of his career with A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Loosely based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, the movie stars Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall, a quiet, easygoing family man who runs a diner in a small Indiana town. But when two dangerous criminals come into the restaurant prepared to wreak havoc, Stall turns hero and shoots them both. After Stall's story is blasted all over the media, Philly mobster Carl Fogaty (an excellent Ed Harris) shows up, claiming that Tom is actually former hit man Joey Cusack--and they've got some important business to finish. While Stall insists that Fogaty is mistaken, his family--his wife, Edie (Maria Bello); teenage son, Jack (Ashton Holmes); and young daughter, Sarah (Heidi Hayes)--gets dragged into the danger that constantly threatens to explode. Cronenberg, whose films ...
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Director: David Cronenberg
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: September 23, 2005
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Josh Olson
DVD Release Date: March 14, 2006
Runtime: 1hr 36min
Studio: New Line Cinema
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