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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - one of the films of the year.
When all the attention was firmly focused on Ang Lee's other western, Brokeback Mountain, for me, David Cronenberg's excellent, contemporary western was the more arguably powerful film.

Taking the premise of a small, idyllic town, and the small-time cafe owner who kills two robbers who he feels are endangering his costumers, Cronenberg skillfully crafts a...
Published on 6 Dec 2006 by James M.

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Renter and not a buyer
One of those films that you feel it's a couple of tweaks away from being a favorite but it feels like it's trying to be clever and not really pulling it off (Especially seeing as the title tells you the main plot twist). Worth a rent maybe if it intrigues you that much, but I wouldn't recommend a buy.
Published 3 months ago by Scott Gist


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - one of the films of the year., 6 Dec 2006
This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
When all the attention was firmly focused on Ang Lee's other western, Brokeback Mountain, for me, David Cronenberg's excellent, contemporary western was the more arguably powerful film.

Taking the premise of a small, idyllic town, and the small-time cafe owner who kills two robbers who he feels are endangering his costumers, Cronenberg skillfully crafts a brilliant story of a man who tries to suppress the violence that is part of his nature, but which eventually consumes him. Cronenberg searches deep in to the human nature, examining the brutal, shocking violence that is at the core of this movie.

Viggo Mortensen fits the bill perfectly, looking so much like a man of the west -- the only thing missing is a cowboy hat. Perfectly portraying the quiet cafe owner, then his violent alter ego Joey, Mortensen is excellent throughout. The violence is brutal and sudden, but it is authentic and shockingly real -- Cronenberg apparently got some of the violence from a DVD on the internet which shows you how to kill a man on the street, which he stumbled across.

For those of you who have not seen this I urge you to get it. Underrated, this film deserves better as it is a brilliant examination of human behaviour and Mortensen's character is a perfect example of a man trying to forget his past, but which inevitable catches up with him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old fashioned action film, age certification warranted, 25 Sep 2009
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
This is an old fashioned action film, it could even be a western the resemblance is so great and it definitely deals with a lot of themes which I'd associate with the western.

This film shares the title of a graphic novel A History of Violence popular as an attempt to deal with the "real world" or "true crime" storyline rather than super heroes or fantasy, however the film does not have the same conclusion (its seriously difficult to see how it could, given how grotesque and gross some people have found the film they should check out the book for real horror).

Thematically its the story of the "second lifer" who has their cover blown when some shady, sinister elements from his past return to haunt him when an act of violence, protecting others, leads to him hitting the headlines portrayed as a small town hero. The suspiscion, doubt and menace which are visited upon the title character and his family are realistic and the fissures quickly open up between the title character, his wife and kids.

Throughout the horrific, unanticipated, shocking and irreversible nature of true violence is portrayed very well. There is no martial artistry, no stylistic shooting or anything of that kind. It is brutal and the age certification is very much warranted.

However what is really interesting, or was to me, is how brilliantly the actors portrayed the characters and how violence effected them, the swift, unflinching nature of their actions, choices once made are not made by half measure. The predatory nature of the criminal element throughout the film is perfect, whether its the original two who think they will hold up the cafe that the lead character is working in or the gangsters who summon him, using threats to his family, to give an account of themselves. Equally the shock with which they responded to their "prey" failing to conform to the "rules of the game", ie behaving as a victim and cringing from unflinching violent counteraction, is done well too.

However, I really would not say that this film glamourises violence, not at all. It is much more ambivalent than the original comic, more ambivalent than a lot of old fashioned action films. Although the narrative of legitimate force, the rehabilitated "one time bad guy" who cant escape the legacy of their reputation or "old scores", is pretty old school, that's where it ends.

The ambivalence is played out in a lot of relationships, the sheriff who doesnt want to unearth anything about a peaceable, law abidding new resident but who is himself no match for real villains, the dynamic between the title character and his son, particularly when his son gets into fights at school and some concerning scenes between the title character and his wife. This final point is one which I found more than a little disconcerting as, like Straw Dogs [1971] [DVD], the guy's wife appears to become aroused by violence, there's perhaps undertones of violence being manly. These scenes didnt cast enough of a shadow as to spoil the enjoyment of the film, I'm unsure I could say the same of the Straw Dogs, but the reality is that its an attempt to portray true to life individuals who arent perfect, who dont conform to "ought" but rather "are". Whether its the characterisation which is flawed or a characterisation of flawed individuals the viewer will have to make up their own mind.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the upgrade, 9 Mar 2009
By 
PJ Rankine (Wallington, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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No need to introduce this movie to film buffs but suffice it to say its worth the upgrade to blu-ray. The film is an anamorphic print and fills the screen. The opening shot of the motel in full sunlight is so sharp its almost unreal. The true dolby soundtrack is first class. Not too much in the way of extras but a worthy addition to your high def library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is he or isn't he?, 13 Oct 2007
This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
Viggo Mortensen does an outstanding job in this movie in playing two what amounts to two characters so believably that on first viewing I honestly thought that Stall being taken for Cusack was simply a case of mistaken identity. You can actually see the gradual change as he turns from small town family man into former sociopathic mobster hitman as the movie progresses and this I'm sure can be largely attributed to Mortensen. On second viewing I was able to truly appreciate this, how his demeanor, his accent, even his facial expression changed from one of cruelty to one of normalcy, so it is clear to see who is really in charge at that moment.

Cronenberg also brings his unique touch to the picture with the scenes of violence being so visceral and realistic that although they are few and far between by todays standards they most definitely stand out as the most memorable (apart from Maria Bello dressing up as a cheerleader).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Piece Of Work, 7 Jun 2009
By 
DL Productions UK (Merseyside, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
David Cronenberg (Crash, Friday The 13th) is better known for his direct, hard hitting movies - where Crash caused him a lot of controversial criticism, so it is interesting how he's gone for a more profound look at how hierarchies work and how to survive within one; as Tom Stall, soon finds out.

He's living the dream, small family - a beautiful wife, and a farm to live on in Millbrook, so what could possibly change this mild mannered man, who is looked up by the rest of the society? Two men, trying to rob his coffee shop, and it turns into an ugly scene, which the rest of Millbrook's community applaud him for, but really - who's the bad guy here? How will he ever end the violence, and will he ever be free?

This is a great movie from David - it's got a lot of profound moments, and even some questionable parts, like when his wife Edie (Maria Bello) goes crazy with him, and then feels in the mood to make love on the stairs. I also like the way he builds up the movie, from this enjoyable insight into their lives, and even goes as far as to show a happy homestead and good sex life, to go from loner trying to end his problems.

I liked Ed Harris' role as Carl Fogarty, he's got such a presence on screen - and Joey's brother, played by William Hurt was also great, the star-studded cast worked well together, and the score was a dream which worked with every moment Cronenberg threw at it. Canada (where this film is made) looks beautiful through the lens, and isn't shrouded by different coloured lenses, David gives us the picture as we'd see it standing on-set, which is a beauty in itself. He's not gone all fancy on us, and tells the story at a decent pedestrian pace, which helps the movement from the first half into the second quite nicely (though I would probably say this has 3 major scenes in it).

I would highly recommend adding this to your DVD collection, as it's brilliant, and shows Cronenberg's brilliance without fancy arty camerawork, and feels quite easy, even though the subject matter can be tough when you contemplate it later on.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than US BD, 3 Jun 2009
By 
M. Hafner (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This UK BD is not grain filtered like the US and therefore provides the authentic film look. If you prefer people looking like wax puppets you are better off with the US disc. If you can appreciate what film looks like this is the disc for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and well acted, 5 Nov 2006
This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
In contrast to the comments of another reviewer, I liked the open unresolved nature of the ending of the film. This was definitely not in keeping with the classic narrative style of hollywood and it provoked the question as to which of Viggio Mortenson's characters have returned to the family home - the unassuming Tom Stall or the rather dark and edgy Joey. Mortenson's skill in portraying the two contrasting characters of the assumed and real was well done as there could have been the temptation to over emphasise the underscored morality of both characters. In the end, the film is a portrayal of the unraveling of deceit and the difficult choice of complicity and moral certitude that this presents for all those affected in its wake.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multilayered and absorbing, 24 Mar 2007
By 
Mr. Stephen Kennedy "skenn1701a" (Doha, Qatar) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
This is a gem of a movie. It is one of those rare treats that you can enjoy on multiple levels - as a straight forward thriller, or as it is really intended, as something much more thought provoking.

We start the movie with Tom Stall (Viggo Mortnesen) and his wife played by Mario Bello exhibit all the characteristics of a happy, safe, marriage. Passionate, intimate, good kids etc... Then their world is disrupted, when two bad guys come into the diner where he works. They set out to do nasty things, and Stall is propelled into a brief but highly effective eruption of violence. He is feted as a hero, but we begin to see the changes in his relationship with his son in particular as a result. As the town comes back to normal however, the ever brilliant Ed Harris comes into town. He is convinced Tom Stall is actually someone else altogether, an explanation that fits with the violence we have seen. To say more about the plot would be to deprive you of seeing how things unfold, so I will leave it at that.

It is in the subtexts that the movie excels - not telling us what we should think, but questioning our own reactions. Is his son right for using more violent means with bullies? Was a little violence necessary to balance his pacifist ways? Is the couples `violent' sex more real than the passion we see near the beginning of the movie?

As stated by others, it is after the movie ends and you start talking about the movie.. and you WILL start talking about the movie, that you will realise how effective it actually was. The performances are uniformly excellent - Mario Bello brings real credibility to a wife dealing with the changes in her husband, and Ashton Holmes as Tom Stall's son is brilliant. William Hurt is almost unrecognisable in the role of a mob boss teetering on the edge of sanity. And last but not least, Howard Shore gives a muted and perfectly sorrowful score, completely at odds with the violence in a way that helps the movie immensely.

There is violence, and there is sex, but all tightly controlled and more tense than graphic, and all carefully crafted to service the story. The ending will disappoint you if you tackle this as a mere action movie.. but if you want a real kick off into the whole subject of the influence and effects of violence, then this is a perfect place to start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cronenberg Film?, 9 Oct 2007
By 
nmollo (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History Of Violence [DVD] (DVD)
This film as a very European feel and that might not appeal to everyone. I think "A History Of Violence" is possibly David Cronenberg's third Classic Directorial effort.

I really enjoyed the pacing, the characters, the action, the sex and the twists. The cinematography is excellent. The Direction is assured. The performances are all excellent.

The first sex scene seemed gratuitous but in relation to the love scene on the stairs it makes perfect sense.

I feel this film is like a parable. It is not a reflection of reality. It is a twisted fairy tail where violent miracles so often happen. The feelings, actions and emotions this family suffer almost border on cerebral incest.

I find it strange that David Cronenberg's name is nowhere to be found on the DVD cover art. With such an iconic and legendary Director as Cronenburg does his name on the packet put off too many people?

Also I would like to commend the DVD extras. The Director himself has personally over seen these Extras. He gives us an eloquent commentary, deleted scenes, which then he explains, and a brilliant documentary. The documentary gives the feeling of almost being a member of the shooting crew. Excellent.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, Great Bluray!, 2 Mar 2009
By 
David Lawson (London) - See all my reviews
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If you're not familiar with this David Cronenberg gem, then you are missing out! It has style, substance & class performances from all. This new BD transfer is very good, with a very sharp & detailed picture & vibrant colours & inky blacks The DolbyTrueHD soundtrack is always fully immersive & given extra depth & dimensionality by a great musical score. This comes Highly Recommended!
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A History Of Violence [DVD]
A History Of Violence [DVD] by David Cronenberg (DVD - 2006)
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