A History Of Violence

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A History Of Violence
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Viggo Mortensen is Tom Stall, a normal guy with a normal life, two relatively normal children and a normal, frisky and very naked wife (played by Maria Bello). He wakes up every morning, has breakfast with the family and heads off to the small-town diner he owns. Everything seems so simple until one day, two thugs show up at his diner and aren't happy with just robbing the little joint. They decide they need a little nookie from one of the female patrons and when simple and quiet Tom takes down the hooligans like he was born and raised in the wild wild west, Tom becomes an instant hero. His face is splattered all over the local and national media and that's when Tom's life gets turned upside down. Some very big bad city men, including Carl Fogaty (Ed Harris), show up to the small town and claim that Tom is not Tom and he is in fact Joey Cusack. This supposed Joey Cusack character isn't a simple small-town fellow. Joey Cusack is an evil man with an evil past. Of course, Tom denies that he is Joey and claims he has never met Carl or any of his henchmen. Unfortunately, Carl does not see things in the same light as Tom and he continues to harrass Tom and his family. He is not leaving until he has Tom's/Joey's ass on a platter. Blood, guts, guns, knives and Monica Bello's cooch are what follows.

I have to say, I was pretty surprised with the graphic nature of A History of Violence. Although there are only a small handful of these graphic scenes (both of violent and sexual natures) they sure leave their mark. For me, the sexual scenes in particular were quite astounding and almost borderline pornographic. But this does not take away from the fact that A History of Violence is a very solid movie. The story is interesting enough to keep you glued to the screen, especially once Carl and the boys show up in town. You are always sort of left wondering who is telling the truth - is Tom really Joey Cusack or is Carl Fogaty full of horse plop? The acting is excellent all around, with very good performances from Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Maria Bello and William Hurt, who gives an over-the-top but nonetheless excellent performance during his brief time on the screen. Hell, even the two kids who played the Stall children (Ashton Holmes and Heidi Hayes) were good.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed A History of Violence. It may not be Oscar-worthy but it is a very entertaining movie nonetheless. Director David Cronenberg has managed to take a relatively simple cast and a relatively simple story and has made it into an interesting guessing game that will keep you riveted for pretty much the entire one and a half hour running time of the movie.


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