A History of Violence
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History of Violence, A (DVD) (WS)
In this stylized thriller from director David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom McKenna, a well-respected man who leads a quiet, charmed life with his loving wife and family in a small town. But when he kills a robber in self-defense at the diner he runs, Tom is lauded by the national media as a vigilante hero. Unfortunately, the media spotlight also brings him to the attention of some sleazy criminals who recognize Tom as a former associate gone underground. Now, to protect his family from certain peril, Tom must return to his secret past and confront A History of Violence. Also starring Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt.]]>
On the surface, David Cronenberg may seem an unlikely candidate to direct A History of Violence, but dig deeper and you'll see that he's the right man for the job. As an intellectual seeker of meaning and an avowed believer in Darwinian survival of the fittest, Cronenberg knows that the story of mild-mannered small-town diner proprietor Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is in fact a multilayered examination of inbred human behavior, beginning when Tom's skillful killing of two would-be robbers draws unwanted attention to his idyllic family life in rural Indiana. He's got a loving wife (Maria Bello) and young daughter (Heidi Hayes) who are about to learn things about Tom they hadn't suspected, and a teenage son (Ashton Holmes) who has inherited his father's most prominent survival trait, manifesting itself in ways he never expected. By the time Tom has come into contact with a scarred villain (Ed Harris) and connections that lead him to a half-crazy kingpin (William Hurt, in a spectacular cameo), Cronenberg has plumbed the dark depths of human nature so skillfully that A History of Violence stands well above the graphic novel that inspired it (indeed, Cronenberg was unaware of the source material behind Josh Olson's chilling adaptation). With hard-hitting violence that's as sudden as it is graphically authentic, this is A History of Violence that's worthy of serious study and widespread acclaim. --Jeff Shannon
On the DVD
On a single disc and with little fanfare, this DVD makes an excellent case for the best extras of the year. Dive into the one-hour-long documentary and learn more about moviemaking than on many a double-disc. The secret lies in director David Cronenberg's (and his usual crew) folksy casualness in showing off the craft, be it makeup (green screens were used), directing (Cronenberg doesn't storyboard), or art direction (the diner set). It also is very funny to hear about "fish Fridays" and how Maria Bello's Uncle Pete became an influence. Even the infamous sex-on-the-staircase scene is diagnosed with candor as stars Viggo Mortensen and Bello act as if there is no backstage camera. There's only one deleted scene, but it's uncommonly deconstructed on why it was filmed and why it was cut (it's a very Cronenbergian dream sequence). A short bit on Cannes is also a delight. So much is here that Cronenberg's smart commentary track is nearly superfluous. Isn't that a nice surprise? --Doug Thomas
More to Explore
The Graphic Novel
Other Graphic Novels that Inspired Movies
David Cronenberg Essentials
Why We Love Maria Bello
The work of Viggo Mortensen
The work of William Hurt
Stills from A History of Violence
Viggo Mortensoe as Tom Stall
Ashton Holmes as Jack Stall and Kyle Schmid as Bobby Jordan
William Hurt as Richie Cusack
Ed Harris as Carl Fogarty and Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall
Maria Bello as Edie Stall
Director David Cronenberg
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The moral of this story is so appropiate. Play with fire - get burned... sooner or later.
Why do some mention the sex? Its not there for titillation and definitely not gratuitous. My GF liked this and its not her kind of movie. In fact she was VERY impressed with how well the sex scene was done, and the violence is less than about 5 minutes of the movie.