QUICK TAKE: A History of Violence (2005)

By Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt
My Rating: 9/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 87% Certified Fresh

PLOT: A mild-mannered husband and father (Mortenson) becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.

A History of Violence is an art film disguised as a Hollywood thriller.  It makes some statements about the nature of violence that would be at home in an Ingmar Bergman film, but cloaks them in a conventional plot that, unbelievably, is based on a graphic novel.  (I’ve read that graphic novel, which goes down some gruesome paths not explored by the movie.)

It’s riveting.  As a pure thriller, this movie is gangbusters.  (I thought the ending was a tad abrupt, so I take away a point.)  The central mystery, about an everyman who is mistaken for a ruthless killer, will keep you guessing.  It also has some troubling things to say about violence itself.  Through various events in the film, it’s almost like the moral of the story is the equivalent of Patrick Swayze’s famous line from Roadhouse: “Be nice, until it’s time to NOT be nice.”  Gandhi would not have approved.

I can’t recommend this movie enough.  Find it, watch it, do it.

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