Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A History of Violence

I'd been looking forward to the critically acclaimed and award-winning A History of Violence for quite some time, although oddly enough I only saw my first trailer for it about two weeks ago. The trailer looked different from how I was expecting the film to be. It looked better than I'd hoped.

First up, this is a very short film by the standards of modern feature films, running just 96 mins (92 mins on the UK PAL video system). Having said that, I think American films are getting shorter, probably to match the dwindling attention spans created by too much Coke and McDonald's as kids. As such, I'll try to keep this review short, too.

The synopsis: When his coffee shop and staff come under attack by armed robbers, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) disarms and kills both offenders. He becomes a local hero. Before long, he is paid a visit by a Philadelphia mobster (Ed Harris) who believes Stall to be someone else -- someone who almost took his eye out years before -- and there's a debt to pay. The film follows the impact of this encounter and plays "is he/isn't he?" with the viewer and Tom's wife (Maria Bello, pictured above).

The review: All the acting, with the exception of the girl who plays Tom's daughter, is really good, as you would expect from performers of this calibre. The film is also great-looking and well directed. I've never been a huge fan of David Cronenberg's work, although he seems like a cool guy, but this could almost be the movie that swings my opinion. There are a couple of gory shots, proving you can take the boy out of the horror genre but you can't take the horror genre out of the boy. That's fine, though, since the film all hangs together as a beautiful whole... for a while. For my money, it loses its way a bit at the 52-minute mark, a little over halfway through. I don't think Cronenberg can be blamed for this, but it's hard to know, since I'm not familiar with the source material.

And yes, as Wife would tell you, this is yet another film in which someone goes down on Maria Bello. Wife is convinced that Maria Bello only signs up for films in which she gets head. I'm not certain about this, but the evidence seems to speak for itself...

The digits: A slightly disappointing, hit-or-miss affair. Still, I think it's a grower, and it definitely has all the hallmarks of a cult classic. With every Maria Bello pun intended, I give it 69. (Revisiting this review, and taking the cheap gag out of the equation, perhaps a more accurate score would be 62 points.)

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