A History of Violence
New Line Cinema
Release date: March 14, 2006
I have never been a big fan of David Cronenberg; too much of his work is a little too… offbeat for my taste. Another way to put it is that his work can be just plain weird. Having said that, I was a little hesitant when I sat down to watch A History of Violence.
I should not have been. AHOV is an outstanding film. It features very strong performances by a fantastic cast. Cronenberg brings a certain stylistic flavor that prevents AHOV from seeming mundane.
Viggo Mortensen plays Tom Stall, a family man in small town Indiana. When an attempted robbery of his diner results in his killing the criminals, Tom is thrust into the spotlight as a hero. This publicity brings some unwanted attention when a mobster(Ed Harris) comes into town insisting that Tom is not who he claims to be.
To reveal any more would spoil the film. This gives you the set-up. The story itself is not what makes this special. It is the impassioned performances by Mortensen, Maria Bello(Who plays Tom’s Wife) and others that draws you in and makes you want to understand what is happening and why.
William Hurt has a small, but important role that won him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. His part takes up perhaps 15 minutes of screen time, but in that time he certainly makes an impact and reminds you just how good of an actor he is.
The DVD features a director’s commentary that definitely adds insight and makes the film all the more fascinating. Also featured is an examination of the two very minor differences between the U.S. version and the international version. It is amazing what minor changes can make a scene acceptable to the MPAA. Other features include footage from the Cannes film festival. While many films toss on bits and pieces simply to have bonus features, the extras here are welcome additions that add to the viewing experience.
A History of Violence is worth watching and worth owning. I can see myself going back to visit the Stall family again down the line.