Monday, April 10, 2006

A History of Violence

Small-town diner owner Tom Stall becomes the local hero when he saves the patrons of his restaurant from a thuggish duo travelling through podunk America on a killing spree. But the exacting manner in which Tom conducted himself in this takedown has investigators questioning his identity after members of the Philadelphia Irish mafia come to town for a visit to Tom's diner.

David Cronenberg's latest offering is one of the more thrilling and unbelievable pictures I've seen in recent times. Thrilling in that it sent my blood pressure through the roof with some intense family drama and uninhibited graphic violence. It's unbelievable in that, to this viewer, it failed to convince me that what was going on, despite being down-home in many respects, was actually "real." Critics of the film praised its cast's performances (Viggo Mortenson and Maria Bello are indeed outstanding in their roles - although I disagree that William Hurt deserved an Oscar nomination, I found his performance laughable at best), and the gritty texture of the overall storyline. Fans of the graphic novel, on which the film is based, complained that too many liberties were taken in presenting the story (e.g. the relationship of Joey to Richie was altered, and there wasn't a glimmer of the Hollywood-style sexual charge this film lapses into meaninglessly at two distinct points). I was disappointed, my wife on the other hand was not!

3 out of 5 stars


At 11:57 AM, Blogger Jeannette said...

I too was a bit disapointed with this film. While the performances were good for the most part, I didn't find the story terribly believable. (Spoiler alert...) I find it hard to beleive that someone who has been running a diner for a number of years would have the strength and quickness to perform some of the acts of violence performed by Viggo Mortensen's character (although I believed his motivation).

Ed Harris' performance was more worthy of an oscar nomination for supporting actor. He was suitably evil and creepy here.

I also didn't fully believe Maria Bello reactions to the situation either. The film could have been improved if a little more time was spent on the family and how they felt and responded to occurrences. I suppose that's not what happened in the graphic novel...

The pacing was good though, so it held my attention.



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