History of Violence
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A History of Violence

3.6 14
Director: David Cronenberg

Cast: David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ashton Holmes


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David Cronenberg directed this screen adaptation of a graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke which explores how an act of heroism unexpectedly changes a man's life. Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) lives a quiet life in a small Indiana town, running the local diner with his wife, Edie (Maria Bello), and raising their two children. But the quiet is shattered one day


David Cronenberg directed this screen adaptation of a graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke which explores how an act of heroism unexpectedly changes a man's life. Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) lives a quiet life in a small Indiana town, running the local diner with his wife, Edie (Maria Bello), and raising their two children. But the quiet is shattered one day when a pair of criminals on the run from the police walk into his diner just before closing time. After they attack one of the customers and seem ready to kill several of the people inside, Tom jumps to the fore, grabbing a gun from one of the criminals and killing the invaders. Tom is immediately hailed as a hero by his employees and the community at large, but Tom seems less than comfortable with his new notoriety. One day, a man with severe facial scars, Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), sits down at the counter and begins addressing Tom as Joey, and begins asking him questions about the old days in Philadelphia. While Tom seems puzzled, Carl's actions suggest that the quiet man pouring coffee at the diner may have a dark and violent past he isn't eager to share with others -- as well as some old scores that haven't been settled.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bill Pearis
Known for surrealist films and a fascination with grotesqueries, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg won accolades for this seemingly straightforward adaptation of John Wagner and Vince Locke's graphic novel A History of Violence. The tale introduces Tom Stall, an upstanding citizen of Millbrook, Indiana, an idyllic American small town where everyone seems to be on a first-name basis. Tom, portrayed by Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, lives a happy, ordinary life with his pretty wife (Maria Bello), teenage son (Ashton Holmes), and young daughter (Heidi Hayes). But one day, two "bad men" walk into Tom's diner, intent on holding the place up and leaving no witnesses alive. In self-defense, Tom kills the two criminals and is labeled an American Hero by the media, though he is uneasy with all the attention. For good reason: soon, three more "bad men" come to town, one of whom (Ed Harris) claims to know Tom -- though he calls him Joey -- and is looking to settle an old score. A History of Violence is the kind of all-American movie that could only be made by someone from Canada, a country that's superficially similar to its southern neighbor but does not share its fascination with guns. Everything is a little too perfect, too nice in Millbrook, and from the unforgettable single-take opening sequence on, tension and dread hang heavy in the air. Cronenberg manages to have his cake and eat it too, crafting a film that works both as a revenge thriller and social critique. Performances from the entire cast are strong but not flashy, apart from William Hurt's brief, hammy, Oscar-nominated turn as a ghost from Tom's past. Although Cronenberg restrains his penchant for gore, the film's brutal acts still register viscerally -- making a strong case that no matter how justified, violence is rarely worth the consequences.
All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
David Cronenberg has always been a name closely associated with the horror genre, and even when his films don't overtly contain the elements generally associated with the critically maligned genre, they can be just as horrifying as any out-and-out fright flick. This bold but shockingly low-key thriller is without question one of the reigning body-horror master's most mainstream cinematic outings to date (no videotape-swallowing orifices or medieval-looking medical instruments here); however, the film's depiction of the vicious cyclical nature of violence is as horrific and challenging as anything in the veteran director's notoriously gruesome filmography. The effectiveness of violence in any film is directly tied to stylistic choices utilized to portray the violence onscreen, and few directors are more aware of this fact than Cronenberg. By contrasting the horrific and often graphic acts of violence committed by the characters in A History of Violence with quiet scenes at the family dinner table or tender moments between husband and wife, Cronenberg punctuates the destructive actions of his characters in a manner that is undeniably effective for those looking for something deeper than the average revenge tale -- showing a filmmaker still very much in command of his material. As the dire situation steadily elevates and the outwardly peaceful protagonist is forced to act out in the same manner as his tormentors, Cronenberg reveals the character's true nature while showing enough faith in his audience to let the situation unfold naturally. This narrative restraint shows a filmmaker whose dramatic strengths are growing with age rather than weakening (a sad problem that seems to plague many genre filmmakers of Cronenberg's generation). Even the lesser-drawn characters in A History of Violence seem to have an added dimension of motivation that ties into the theories of violence presented in the film, with the more prominent supporting players, including Ed Harris and William Hurt, turning in particularly effective performances. Though some viewers may find it difficult to connect with the archetypal characters in A History of Violence on an emotional level, the message regarding the inherently cyclical nature of violence is both effectively clear and viscerally presented, offering a testament to Cronenberg's continuing willingness to challenge his audience while simultaneously crafting a compelling mainstream thriller.
Village Voice - J. Hoberman
Cronenberg's movie manages to have its cake and eat it--impersonating an action flick in its staccato mayhem while questioning these violent attractions every step of the way.
New York Times - Manohla Dargis
A masterpiece of indirection and pure visceral thrills, David Cronenberg's latest mindblower, A History of Violence, is the feel-good, feel-bad movie of the year.

Product Details

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New Line Home Video
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Director David Cronenberg commentary; "Acts of Violence" documentary- a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes journey on the making of the film; Three riveting featurettes:; "Violence history:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Viggo Mortensen Tom Stall
Maria Bello Edie Stall
Ashton Holmes Jack Stall
William Hurt Richie Cusack
Stephen McHattie Leland Jones
Peter MacNeill Sheriff Sam Carney
Ed Harris Carl Fogarty
Heidi Hayes Sarah Stall
Greg Bryk William "Billy" Orser

Technical Credits
David Cronenberg Director
Chris Bender Producer
Dierdre Bowen Casting
Josh Braun Executive Producer
Denise Cronenberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Walter Gasparovic Asst. Director
Glen Gauthier Sound/Sound Designer
Justis Greene Executive Producer
Wayne Griffin Sound Mixer
Roger E. Kass Executive Producer
James McAteer Art Director
Michael O'Farrell Sound Mixer
Josh Olson Screenwriter
Ronald Sanders Editor
Howard Shore Score Composer
Carol Spier Production Designer
J.C. Spink Producer
Peter Suschitzky Cinematographer
Jane Weiner Co-producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- History of Violence
1. Monsters [6:03]
2. Family Man [4:36]
3. Jack [1:25]
4. Teens [7:20]
5. A Stop at the Dinner [1:52]
6. An American Hero [3:44]
7. Bad Man [4:01]
8. "Get the Shotgun" [9:12]
9. "Ask Tom" [6:07]
10. Tought Guy [3:37]
11. Standoff [4:01]
12. The Truth [5:52]
13. Questions ans Answers [3:44]
14. Philadelphia [8:26]
15. Richie [4:56]
16. Home [12:06]
17. End Credits [4:29]


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A History of Violence 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Cronenberg does it again! Awesome movie. Viggo is amazing as ever, this film great. If you're repulsed by gore then beware, though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great story - great acting but could have done with a whole lot less of the graphic sexual activity
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Godfather Meets the Bourne Identity! There isn't as much of a mysterious journey in "A History of Violence" as was in The Bourne Identity, as the secret in this film is made known to viewers all too soon. However, there is good acting and a lot of action, the combination of which usually results in an enjoyable film. Good movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film was a suprise to me. It includes so many contraversial topics. At the same time, the action scenes are very beautiful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For all of the hype this film recieved, it seems that this is nothing more than a David Lynch wannabe. With it's foreboding visuals, it's graphic and disturbing content, and of course its creepy villians too, it can't fool anyone about it's rediculious mystery, or the sense that this is blatantly imitated material.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very excited for this movie after seeing some enticing promos. However, it failed to live up to the hype. The story line was very weak with hardly any charachter development, and more than one graphic scene that could have been left out. Beyond the obvious backstory explained in the first half hour of the film, there are no intriguing elements in the plot. Some good action shots weren't enough to make up for the poor script. Very disappointing.
robbieb More than 1 year ago
This movie is amazing. It is funny, harrowing, scary, violent, touching and heartbreaking. It is terrific. It can be discussed in highbrow conversation or just enjoyed for being a fast paced, action packed blast. A thinking action movie, a violent character study and analysis of family and what family implies. And more. Much more.
This was a remarkable film and an important development in the ouevre of Cronenberg. While his usual attention to sexuality and violence is present, it does not take on the physically transformative paths his previous films have. Even so, it is more powerful for it. Mortensen's performance as Tom is nuanced and delicate because it is alternately so kind and so terrifying. The film is visceral and brutal but more concerned with the relationships in the family and how that violence effects how they love one another.
There are also questions (perhaps not given quite enough screen time) to the notion of whether violence is an inherited and inherent male trait. The previous reviews don't seem to understand that this isn't an action movie. It isn't a weepy melodrama. It is a new animal and a remarkable one.
Many of these themes were revisited in Eastern Promises and they together form a interesting study.
This is not to say that the movie isn't entertaining or is some dry, boring thing. Quite the contrary. It is a richly rewarding, immensely funny film, with amazing sights and technical expertise.
The dvd is very good and the commentary by Cronenberg is not to be missed, he is as eloquent and intelligent as one could possibly hope for.
For fans of intelligent and probing films, sure. But also for people who want to be challenged and entertained all at once.
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