Sunday, November 06, 2005

A History of Violence Review

I saw A History of Violence a week ago. It is a good film with a very interesting concept and some great performances, however I have problems with how it is put together.

The film centres around Tom Stall (Viggo Mortenson), who is living a happy and quiet life with his wife Edie (Maria Bello) and two children in the small town of Millbrook, but one night their idyllic existence is shattered when Tom foils a vicious attempted robbery in his diner. Tom is heralded a hero, and thrown into the spot light, however as he tries to return his life to normal he is confronted by a dangerous mobster (Ed Harris) who believes that Tom is really another man who wronged him in the past. The mob begins stalking Tom and his family, looking for revenge.

The film is very graphic in nature, really showing off the gore and mutilation of gun wounds, something I found to be a strong plus. The concept behind the film, that of if someone can have a past life that they walked away from, is well implemented and portrayed well by the cast, however my biggest gripe with the film, running at about an hour and a half, is that it should really have been an hour long film.

My major issue isn't with the pacing itself mind you, the film starts off very slow and this actually works well for it, it's how the film takes care of its major issue. Without giving away any plot spoilers, A History of Violence feels complete after a major confrontation at the hour-ish mark, and the rest of the film felt a lot like Cronenberg realized he needed more to pad the film, so he created this add-on to the main plot for the next half hour. I found that this also detracted greatly from the tension an internal conflict that the family is experiencing, and the sub plot and involvement of Tom's son, Jack (Ashton Holmes).

Overall, A History of Violence is a good film, with some excellent characters, graphic violence, and nice sex scenes (Maria Bello is fuckin' hot), however the film ultimately just drags on when it should have wrapped itself up or, in my opinion, have been structured differently. If you haven't seen it, I do recommend a DVD rent, however if you miss it you won't be missing the most amazing and engaging film ever made.

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