A History of Violence (18)

Film

Thrillers

A History of Violence

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Time Out says

Tue Sep 27 2005

Though this is certainly Cronenberg’s most ‘mainstream’ movie in years, the fact that it’s so immediately enjoyable as a terrific thriller does not diminish its less obvious virtues. Indeed, its apparent effortlessness in transcending simple generic concerns to interrogate a range of issues surrounding violence, justice, heroism and identity should not distract attention from its subtly subversive critique of the American Dream (or should one say nightmare?). Diner proprietor Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen), his lawyer wife Edie (Maria Bello) and their two kids seem to have a pretty idyllic existence in smalltown America until a couple of gleefully murderous hoods turn up by chance at the eaterie, and an order for coffee escalates to terrorising Tom and his customers. Quick thinking on his part leads to reluctant celebrity – and, still more unwelcome – further visits, from sinister wise guys hinting that Tom may not be quite the clean-cut Ordinary Joe he says he is. Besides playing fast and loose (in the most elegantly rigorous way, of course) with family-under-siege thriller conventions, Cronenberg deftly undermines narrative expectations by implying that happy families may in fact be forms of imprisonment, and that trying to conform to an American way may involve lying to ourselves and others about the very human capacity for monstrosity. Here, as a repressed past erupts with a vengeance, violence begets violence, and safe, traditional ethics are swiftly revealed as virtually irrelevant. All this is executed with Cronenberg's now customarily brilliant wit, bravura style and perfect pacing, not to mention peak-form performances from a superb cast that memorably includes William Hurt and Ed Harris. Unlike the tough but unremarkable pulp fiction of the original graphic novel,  the film (which differs from the book in numerous important respects) succeeds not only in terms of action and suspense but as cautionary fable, historical allegory, social satire and moral disquisition. In short, it’s marvellous, and up there with ‘Spider’ as Cronenberg’s very best work.
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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Sep 30, 2005

Duration:

96 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Maria Bello, Heidi Hayes, Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Stephen McHattie, William Hurt, Greg Bryk, Ashton Holmes

Editor:

Ronald Sanders

Director:

David Cronenberg

Screenwriter:

Josh Olson

Cinematography:

Peter Suschitzky

Production Designer:

Carol Spier

Producer:

JC Spink, Chris Bender

Music:

Howard Shore

Cinemas showing A History of Violence

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South Bank Community Cinema

Nunthorpe Road, York, YO23 1BW Show map/details

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    South Bank Community Cinema Nunthorpe Road
    York
    YO23 1BW

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  • Fri Feb 13 2015:

    • 20:00

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

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George Marshall

Staggeringly over-rated. Then critics keep wanting to analyse it in light of Cronenberg's 'oevre' but if you didn;t k ow or didn;t care who made it the conclusion would be that this was a cliched and pointless thriller. The central premise that a normal guy has a dark secret could be interesting but the quality of the script, acting, direction do not in any way meet that potential or sustain suspense.

BrianOH

I thought this was an entertaining movie and thouroughly enjoyed it. There was good acting by classy actors. All of the main actors were a credit to the movie and the director. Obviously for that to happen, the director did a fine job. To put it a little more into perspective however, this movie sought to appeal to our basic instincts of the "good" guy beating the bad guy. This is probably partly because it rarely happens in real life, but quite often in Reel Life. From that perspective it has similarities to Rocky and Rambo. The movie has an interesting twist insofar as most of us think that the "hero" is not actually the bad guy initially. As he begins to get into the car with Harris, it appears he will go to "Philly" and all will be sorted out. The one thing that I found unrealistic and unlikely was the reaction of his family to his alter ego, Joey. I guess that the sex scene on the stairs was to show us the double standards of his wife to the extra persona of her husband. I gave the movie 7 out of 10. That may appear a little light on, but that is to reflect why this movie has the appeal that it does. Although highly entertaining, it is because of the main reasons it is appealing. My vote reflects my opinion of the story, the screenplay, the directing, the casting, and the acting. It is good to see good actors employed to entertain and show their wares. Unlike some movies that I have seen recently where acting talent has been utterly wasted - a la "Little Fish".

BrianOH

I thought this was an entertaining movie and thouroughly enjoyed it. There was good acting by classy actors. All of the main actors were a credit to the movie and the director. Obviously for that to happen, the director did a fine job. To put it a little more into perspective however, this movie sought to appeal to our basic instincts of the "good" guy beating the bad guy. This is probably partly because it rarely happens in real life, but quite often in Reel Life. From that perspective it has similarities to Rocky and Rambo. The movie has an interesting twist insofar as most of us think that the "hero" is not actually the bad guy initially. As he begins to get into the car with Harris, it appears he will go to "Philly" and all will be sorted out. The one thing that I found unrealistic and unlikely was the reaction of his family to his alter ego, Joey. I guess that the sex scene on the stairs was to show us the double standards of his wife to the extra persona of her husband. I gave the movie 7 out of 10. That may appear a little light on, but that is to reflect why this movie has the appeal that it does. Although highly entertaining, it is because of the main reasons it is appealing. My vote reflects my opinion of the story, the screenplay, the directing, the casting, and the acting. It is good to see good actors employed to entertain and show their wares. Unlike some movies that I have seen recently where acting talent has been utterly wasted - a la "Little Fish".