Monday 22 April 2024

A History of Violence - 2005 film review

I first watched David Cronenberg's film A History of Violence a year or two after its release and I enjoyed it. After a gap of more than fifteen years, I'd forgotten much of the detail of the story, even though the central premise stuck in my mind, so I thought I'd watch it again to see whether my initial impression was confirmed or not. Suffice to say that, despite knowing the key twist, I enjoyed it all over again.

Mild-mannered Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen, who is excellent) is living a more or less idyllic life in a small town in Indiana. He owns a small diner and is popular with local people. He is married to an extremely attractive lawyer called Edie (Maria Bello) and they have a boy and a girl. Of course they have their problems - for instance, their son is a target for bullies at school - but all in all, things couldn't be much better.

Their lives are irrevocably changed when two violent criminals arrive in town. We've already seen these men kill some innocent people for no very good reason and we fear the worst when they turn up at the diner. They are menacing towards Tom and when a woman who works in the diner tries to leave, they attack her. But Tom fights back courageously - and with unexpected verve - and the two men wind up dead.

So Tom becomes a hero and the case attracts a great deal of publicity. Unfortunately, this has extremely adverse consequences. Before long, more strangers arrive in town, and this time they are looking specifically for Tom...I don't want to say any more, but this is a strong thriller that also delves into character and considers the nature of redemption. There's also a terrific performance in the later stages of the movie from the late, great William Hurt. Recommended.

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