© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

A History of Violence
U.S.A. 2005

Opening 13 Oct 2005

Directed by: David Cronenberg
Writing credits: John Wagner, Vince Locke, Josh Olson
Principal actors: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes

Director David Cronenberg paints a picture of a man wanting to erase his past and protect his new life even if it means killing ten (more) men, including his own brother. That’s a man pretty desperate for the great American family values dream of a house in Millbrook, Indiana (actually filmed in Ontario), work in a diner, a cheerleader-blond wife and two children. When Tom Stall’s (Viggo Mortensen) past catches up with him, and wife Edie (Maria Bello) realizes that he isn’t the man she thought she married, but instead a hardened criminal named Joey Cusack, her first words are, “Then you aren’t from Portland!?” I nominate that for the funniest film sentence of 2005. Poor Sheriff Carney, trying to get at the truth of the matter, suspects Tom is in a witness protection program, which isn’t far off the mark. Son Jack, a chip off the old block, rises to threats at school by beating a classmate into the hospital, and small blond daughter Sarah sees monsters in the night. To relieve some tension Tom rapes his wife on the residential stairway. So here you have organized crime violence, sexual violence, peer violence, and fratricidal violence. Never fear: it all works out and is hunky dorey in the end. This is not a bad film, just slow and repetitive except for the fight scenes; the slow, repetitive music doesn’t help at all. You will probably guess the ending ten minutes into the film. Actually, this film reminded me very much of Fight Club with Edward Norton, which is also not a bad film. William Hurt received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Richie Cusack, Joey’s brother. (Becky Tan)

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