A History of Violence (New Line Platinum Series) [DVD]
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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 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
Top Customer Reviews
Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and wife Edie (Maria Bello) live in a small mid-western town with teenage son Jack (Ashton Holmes) and young daughter Sarah (Heidi Hayes). The couple own, and Tom manages, a diner on Main Street. One night at closing, two psychopathic killers enter the eatery to rob the place and have some bloody fun. (We know they're psychopaths because the film's opening sequence shows them brutally murdering a family that owns a roadside motel.) As his waitress is about to be raped, Tom reacts in a way that would make Dirty Harry proud. The killers are rendered dead in pools of blood, coffee, and broken glass, and Tom, with his foot impaled by a knife, becomes a local hero that makes the national TV news. However, this notoriety draws out of the woodwork a scarred, Mafia hit man from Philadelphia, Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), and a pair of associate thugs. Carl insists to Tom and Edie that the former is really Joey Cusack, a big city killer that tried to take out Carl's left eye with barbed wire. Tom, of course, denies that he's ever been to Philly. Edie believes her husband. At least she does until witnessing his reaction when Fogarty et al confront Tom on their front lawn after they kidnap Jack. Maybe Hubby has secrets, you think?
At first, the audience believes that son Jack is a spineless wimp - until he's pushed too far in the hallway of his high school by a bully that's been tormenting him. (Is there an inheritable gene for mayhem, you might ask.) From all of us who've had sand kicked in our faces, way to go, kid!Read more ›
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.
In his terrific new film, "A History of Violence" Cronenberg has it both ways: his film features a straight forward plot that he handles with just a slight out-of-kilter quality that adds crunch and bite to the story of a man, Tom Stall (the quintessential strong silent, Gary Cooper-type, Viggo Mortensen) who, when placed in a situation that requires swift and brutal force...vomits out the internal fortitude necessary from deep inside his psyche and bowels to come up with the goods to deal with the situation. "AHOV" then, is about violence, brutality and the far reaching and ever telescoping tentacles that both exhibit as they wreak havoc on Tom, his wife Edie (the luminous Maria Bello) and his family and friends.
Cronenberg is dealing with some lofty and controversial ideas here: Kill someone and forever pay the price for that murder, whether or not the crime is justified or not. Commit violence and that violence colors everything that you are, everything that you do for the rest of your life. Once you take someone's life how much of you, the essence, the soul, the heart of you is gone also?
Viggo Mortensen's Tom Stall is strong of mind and morals, tender, vulnerable, upstanding but ultimately conflicted. Mortensen turns in a shaded performance that not only shows up Tom's soft side but also his malevolent one as well.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A movie with strong religious overtone. Viggo Mortensen plays Joey Cusack a Philadelphia mob killer who is "very good at killing. Read morePublished 4 days ago by ReadySetGo
Great acting, but the story was a bit predictable and somewhat unbelievable.Published 4 days ago by Leonard Mygatt
A taut psychological thriller with a lot of excellent acting, though the plot, especially the second half, is a bit far fetched.Published 5 days ago by JDC
Classical Soderberg plot, well acted movie with William Hurt superb performance.Published 13 days ago by Predrag Kos
In a raw manner, this film deals with family, secrets, violence, tough resolutions and even community support. Read morePublished 19 days ago by John
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