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A History of Violence back to product details

chocolate souffle
written by Popnfresh August 28, 2007 - 5:52 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I have to second ZenBones. There's nothing subtle about this film to my eyes, and it's paced so quickly that it doesn't even give you the chance to suspend disbelief. It's a whirlwind ride of revenge that feels like a cotton candy entree.

Nothing about it is substantive or though provoking. Could've been an interesting 120 minute movie, but at 96 minutes there's something missing.

Violent symetries
written by kinaidos April 7, 2006 - 1:50 PM PDT
1 out of 7 members found this review helpful
The structure of the film is impressive, probably owing to the original story. The brother-brother relationship is reflected in the father son relationship and in the various villain-stooge pairings in the film. This helps squarely frame the violence in the film in terms of the male-male relationships which give it significance. It also helps decenter the narrative, which by itself is far too conventional to sustain a film.
What makes the film so striking for me is the juxtaposition of this heavy handed graphic novel structuring with a realistic acting style and mostly realistic directing style. It creates a sense of the characters being caught up in something they aren't really in control of.
I also liked the films dark moral: that the only way to escape your past is to destroy it. I would have been happier though if the destruction would have been more proactive and less reactive. That would have been more fun and just a little darker. But then it would have been a Tarentino film.

Beware the Farces of Evil!
written by ZenBones March 28, 2006 - 3:06 PM PST
4 out of 7 members found this review helpful
**SPOILER WARNING!** This is certainly not the first movie to depict the cycle of violence and the trap it holds on people. The Godfather trilogy did it best - I could actually hear the ghost of Michael Corleone's seething wail, "just when I thought I was out - they pull me back in!" But this is a film that has no real cycle to speak of so it must depend on manipulating the audience instead. There's a little that we can see of Mortensen's gangster days but we must assume that overall, he's really a great guy because he's living in an all-American town (all white, of course) running an old-fashioned diner (how all-American can you get?), married to a supermodel - I mean lawyer, and has two of the nicest, cutest all-American kids that ever stepped out of a Disney commercial. He's just a great guy (I'm only mentioning it twice, which is not nearly as often as the movie makes this point). He beats up and kills bad guys right and left, but the way in which he does it isn't akin to the way gangsters or soldiers or even James Bond does it - this guy is f**king Superman!

I can accept the fact that bad action movies always have the hero able to take on several bad guys at once while each guy sort of waits his turn to get hit or shot. I can accept that the heroes always get shot in the shoulder and - okay this is stretching it - stabbed in the foot (you know Tom is a superhero because he runs several blocks just days after we see a knife crunch DEEP into his foot). I can accept that gangsters in bad action movies talk like mugs from bad 1940's pulp thrillers. But this isn't supposed to be a bad action movie. We're supposed to feel something for these characters, and we're supposed to get some sort of immersion into the wisdom of how violence and power grip many men. We're supposed to see how 'ordinary men' can lose their way and become immersed in the dark force. But Tom isn't ordinary and Joey - his alter ego - isn't a dark force (a farce, maybe). These are ubermen. They belong in a Hollywood movie, not in this film. Everything is 'uber' in this film, from the two intense sex scenes that underline 'nice guy sex / bad guy sex', to the school bully who looks like every bully cast in every 1970's high school romp. This film also embraces the tiresome habit that Hollywood always has of casting people well into their twenties to play high school kids, and superbabes to play the whimpering wives who will of course, even after being raped, always stand by their men. Obviously, this film is very popular, but for me it was just a major disappointment. I was really looking forward to seeing a riveting film that looks at violence from an angle that is never shown in regular Hollywood movies. But it didn't. It just reinforced all that is dumb, dishonest and predictable about violence in Hollywood movies. For an honest, gripping look at a gangsters who are grappling with their violent histories, check out John Cassavetes' "Killing of a Chinese Bookie" or even Abel Ferrara's "The Funeral".

Road to Perdition? Well Intentioned. A History of Violence? Color me schooled!
written by RepairmanJack March 15, 2006 - 12:13 AM PST
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
The most overlooked movie at the 2006 Oscars was also the highest praised. And rightly so. Cronenberg's most mainstream flick since THE FLY is also his most satisfying. Intelligent, intellectual, lean and mean, this film packs in a lot (story, character, subtext) in its 96 minute frame and raises more discussion and thought than CRASH or BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN deserved. Like ROAD TO PERDITION, VIOLENCE is based on a graphic novel and it does not play nice, Unlike PERDITION, it does not soften it's edge to maintain the image of it's stars, who are perfectly cast here, and goes for broke. If you thought the '70's filmmaking revival ended in the '90's, here's hope that it still exists. No pretense of Oscar drama here. Just gritty story told from the gut that lingers in your head. Truly, a rare film. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION

Having Your Cake and Choking on it, Too.
written by talltale January 7, 2006 - 2:28 PM PST
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful
After so many excellent notices (including a number of picks as "Best Film of the Year," I was expecting a lot from A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Being a long-time David Cronenberg fan just added to those expectations. Maybe adapting a graphic novel to the screen is not the best choice that this unusual and talented director might make, because things get just a little too simplistic, too often throughout this strange movie.

It's been said that "History/Violence" works as both the thing itself and as a critique of that thing. Perhaps it works too well as the thing itself: a violent, semi-action movie that offers four major action set pieces, so that the self-critique can easily get lost unless you keep reminding yourself that it's there. On the other hand it doesn't quite work well enough as an action film: the scene on the front lawn and another in the Philadelphia mansion are simply unbelievable by any standard.

It's one thing to have the hero outfox two men with guns (and his son better the two bullying schoolmates); when the hero bests three or more men with weapons, the moment-to-moment, who-does-what is vital. And since these action scenes don't completely come off (I can't explain why without including "spoilers" here), this punctures the movie as a genre piece and makes the self-critique rather pointless. Cronenberg also dawdles when he needs to move. The ending is so excruciatingly attenuated that, you may be screaming, "I get it, I get it!" long before those credits finally roll.

Too bad, because the performances by the entire cast are fine (some awards are in order down the line) and Cronenberg has seen his biggest almost-mainstream grosses since his remake of "The Fly." Among the added delights on view is a wonderfully hot sex scene between a long-time husband and wife (you don't see that too often, and actors don't come much hotter than Mortensen and Bello) and good old William Hurt, who takes us to the top of over-the-top and then balances there like the tightrope-walking actor he loves to be.


(Average 7.08)
362 Votes
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