A History of Violence

Year: 2005
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: John Wagner and Vince Locke (Graphic Novel) and Josh Olsen (screenplay)


First of all, I want to address this film’s position in the order of  the DVD arrangement.  I have seen this movie placed in the “H” section of friends collections who have a similar arrangement, and it has been suggested to me that the film is out of place on our DVD rack.  This is the only circumstance where the words “A” or “the” are taken into account when placing a DVD in the collection.  This is because the “A” seems too important to the title in this instance.  This is not a movie about the history of violence, or even directly about violence at all.  This movie is about one man who has A history of violence, it’s A history he suddenly has to face and can no longer hide from.

A History of Violence is an awesome movie, it’s not perfect but it is great nonetheless. The movie’s strengths are the story, direction, and the performances of the supporting actors.  Ed Harris is great as the scarred mobster from Philly, Aston Holmes is also very good, and William Hurt is unbelievable.  William Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in this film, which says a lot because comic book films generally don’t get nominated for the big categories.  His role as the mob boss brother can catch you by surprise, he is a great actor and should play this kind of role again.  It’s a good thing the supporting cast did such a good job because the leads are both awful.  I like Viggo Mortensen as an actor, but he is awful in this movie.  Maria Bello is equally awful and when the two of them are together they could sink the movie.  I know that the two sex scenes were intentionally drastically different to show the duality of the Tom Stall/Joey Cusack character but both of them were awful. The two sex scenes are very awkward and go on for far too long, Mortensen and Bello have absolutely no chemistry together.  David Cronenberg is known for being graphic, and he delivers violence and gore as one would expect.  I have heard this film criticized as being too graphic and gory but on the contrary I think that strengthens the film.  The title is A History of Violence after all, I think you have to have certain expectations about it going in and the movie does a great job of fulfilling those expectations.  The violence is sudden and it’s fierce, the ferocity of that violence sets this film apart, it’s what makes it memorable.  If the violence in this film had failed to make an impression then the movie in itself would have been a failure.

If you are uncomfortable seeing blood and violence then steer clear of this movie, but otherwise I recommend it all the way.  It’s not too long, around an hour and a half but it does drag for many slow minutes at the end.  If nothing else, see this film for William Hurt’s performance alone, it really was amazing.


A History of Violence is a very slow, interesting film. I really and thoroughly enjoy it. It’s pace is amazing to me. Usually I hate slow moving movies, but this one is eerily quiet and moves by scene by scene leaving you wondering about each and every character. All of the actors in this movie deliver great roles and they are each believable. Ryan thinks the sex scenes are a little uncomfortable and while that may be true, I find them to be more believable. Sorry that I don’t have more to say on this film, but all in all it is a good flick that is worth watching.


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