David Cronenberg has been consistent at one thing in his career: being wildly
inconsistent. He's made films that I've loved, like The Fly and The
Dead Zone, and films that I've hated, like Naked Lunch and eXistenZ.
So it was with some trepidation that I viewed 2005's A History of
History of Violence
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello,
and Ed Harris
Stall (Viggo Mortensen) has what some might consider the picture-perfect,
Midwestern life. He lives in Millbrook, Indiana, a small town where
everyone knows everyone else. He's married
to Sarah (Maria Bello), a beautiful, intelligent woman. He's got two
kids. He runs the town diner. He even tells his wife that he considers
himself the luckiest man alive.
that changes when two men enter the diner as Tom is closing for
the night. These men are definitely
not the type that regularly frequent small-town
diners. As they draw guns and make it obvious that they intend to do
his customers and employees harm, Tom takes matters into his own hands.
He manages to kill both of them with their own guns. He's instantly
championed as a "small town hero", but the attention he receives
from the media changes his life and the lives of his family forever.
and foremost, this is probably Cronenberg's most straightforward movie.
Thankfully, there are no strange and twisted visions of the future here.
Based on a script by Josh Olson,
which itself was based on a graphic novel by Vince Locke and John Wagner,
Cronenberg puts on a morality play that will toy with the viewer's idea
of when violence is justified and when it is not.
Mortensen, best known as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy,
delivers a nuanced but very effective performance as Tom Stall. The role
requires subtle changes in voice inflection and tone that Mortensen absolutely
nails. With Mortensen's performance as the foundation, Cronenberg is
able to build
his tale of dread and suspense successfully. With anyone else in the
role -- and supposedly Harrison Ford and Thomas Jane were both considered
-- A History of Violence would not be the same movie. Maria
Bello provides Mortensen with ample
support, but this is clearly Viggo's show.
best way to see A History of Violence is with no knowledge of
the film's plot beyond what I've described here. Even better would be
to see it with a group of friends with whom you can discuss how you feel
afterwards. This is a movie that begs to be the subject of intelligent
conversation and discussion. That's a high compliment.
A History of Violence won't make me forget eXistenZ or Naked
Cronenberg has delivered one of the best films I've seen in a long time
by any director.
be a little less wary of anything else he directs for at least the foreseeable
fictitious town that the film is set in (Millbrook, Indiana) is named
after the town where the film was actually shot (Millbrook, Ontario,
Canada). The scenes set in Philadelphia were actually shot in Toronto,
Canada. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)