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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on August 23, 2006
Most people who didn't like this film didn't like it because they consider it a Viggo Mortensen film. It is a David Cronenberg film, and one of his best at that. I've been a Cronenberg fan for several years now, and he is one of my all time favourite directors along with Kurosawa and Gilliam. He has been moving away from his patented "body horror" films into a more somber and psychological realm. As a result, "A History of Violence" has more in common with "Spider" than it does with "Videodrome." It is deliberately slow which helps to underscore the bursts of, well, violence, rendering them all the more shocking. If you are expecting a Cronenberg horror film, or even a Hollywood action movie, look elsewhere.

I saw this movie at the theater (I was amazed that we even got it in our small town) and was dismayed at the crowd reaction (though it was a rather small crowd). At the end, just about everyone walked out muttering something about how stupid the conclusion was ("All they did was look at each other... whine whine..."). Most of these people cannot even pronounce the name Cronenberg and were undoubtedly expecting the latest Viggo action movie. Truth be told, I think the casting of Viggo Mortensen was a mistake. Now hear me out. Like everyone, I love Lord of the Rings. I love Viggo. As his performance in "A History of Violence" demonstrates, he is an incredibly gifted actor. Unfortunately, he seems doomed to be forever remembered as Aragorn. How many people saw this movie because of Lord of the Rings? And how many of those were incredibly disappointed? I am reminded of when P.T. Anderson cast Adam Sandler in "Punch-Drunk Love." Fans of "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights" loved the film because it was a P.T. Anderson film. Fans of Adam Sandler were rather less receptive. Even though he did an amazing job (this means a lot coming from me, as I am not a big Sandler fan), most people wanted him to just punch someone and talk with a silly voice.

"A History of Violence," like all of Cronenberg's films, is not an easy picture to deal with or even understand completely. You have to look beneath the surface, appreciate the many moments of understated silence, the startling bursts of violence, and also, think of your reaction to it. What does the film say about you, about us as a society and our penchant for self-destructive action and sexuality. I don't have all the answers; I doubt if even Cronenberg does, but rest assured that this is not a film to take lightly. It is art. It is meant to be studied and reflected upon, not thrown on on a Friday night when you're bored. If you are not an adventurous movie goer, chances are you should pass on "A History of Violence." If you have a deep love of cinema, however, I don't think there has been a better film released this year.
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on August 28, 2006
David Cronenberg's portfolio of work always frustrated me. You could see the creative genius behind the many, varied stories he told but they always seemed to come up a bit short or go over the top or strain credulity. I used to believe 'Naked Lunch' was his best work, especially considering the obtuse source material. However, this is the director's crowning achievement.

AHoV finally gets the balance between story, characters and violence/horror/gore that his previous films could never quite find. The pacing of the film is absolutely perfect and aftre starting slowly, accelerates to the unusual conclusion. Perhaps the greatest surprise of the film is that after the initial curveball, there are no more real surprises - it unfolds in a wholly believable yet gripping storyline.

One constant in Cronenberg's work is excellence in casting and here there is no let-down. Mortenson, Hurt, Bello and Harris are brilliant. The couple of poor reviews here seem to be due to disgruntled Lord of the Rings fans. It should be needless to say that this is NOT Lord of the Rings but some people are not too bright.

As the Amazon review states, this film is "worthy of serious study and widespread acclaim".
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on November 27, 2010
A History of Violence is terrific entertainment. From the opening scene, to the last scene, the film absolutely engages the viewer into this world of love, conversion, and forgiveness battling an unforgiving past of hate and violence.

The film opens with two of the most repulsive villains in film history. They are repulsive because they are uncomfortable realistic in their psychopathy and lust for violence. Later, the viewer is then manipulated in experiencing the exhilaration of violence when these two villains finally meet their match in someone who is just as comfortable with violence, but without the lust for it. It is rather disconcerting, and one can see how dangerous it is to humanity, when justice and violence become allies, since in the end something is nevertheless taken away from our spirit. The interesting thing about this film, I believe, is how the film doesn't just exploit the entertainment value of violence, but attempts to explore its impact on the humanity of good people.

Cronenberg does an excellent job in balancing these two themes. We get an exciting story that has violence, certainly, but we have an unusual character development in the anti-hero of the film, played by Viggo Mortensen, in another fine performance, and the interaction he has with his family, particularly his wife, played by Maria Bello, in what can only be described as a remarkable performance. Ms. Bello conveys a wonderful diversity of emotions, from uninhibited sensuality, sensitivity, and maternal nurturing to moral strength and courage.

Special mention has to go out to the villains in this film, for without them there would be no movie. I found Stephen McHattie and Greg Bryk absolutely outstanding as the two psychopaths that open the film. They were truly frightening men, the kind one prays you never ever meet in your lifetime. Ed Harris is wonderful as the bitter gangster who has his heart set on revenge, and William Hurt, while maybe a little too off the top in his performance, nevertheless is able to convey adequately a morally bankrupt man without a soul.

In my opinion, this is Cronenberg's best film to date, and with his fine follow-up to this film, Eastern Promises, is developing into one of the great directors of our generation.
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on February 6, 2006
I saw this in the movies and I have to tell you this film packs a wallop!I'm a huge David Cronenberg fan and this one is his best to date.Tom Shall is a loving caring husband who works hard at the little cafe in town which he owns.Is he who he is? Not to the men that come looking for him.To tell you the rest would spoil it.I kept wondering when that traditional Cronenberg violence would set in and believe me its there.Its just as graphic as the novel.William Hurt has a cameo toward the end and he's great.I could tell he liked that roll.A History of Violence is right up there with The Fly. I still remember every scene and I saw it in early fall.That my friend is a big plus for me!
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on June 2, 2013
I dont consider myself to be a Cronenberg fan but this film was just outstanding. Story, characters. I wont say too much because of spoilers but there are twists and turns in this. It will hold your interest. I love the artwork on the steelbook better than the art on the Blu Ray or DVD case so I decided to splurge for. Steelbooks are really cool
The extras are the same, basically the disc is the same - but its in blu ray steelbook packaging.
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on August 17, 2010
Even though I am not generally a big fan of action movie, I am fascinated by that powerful movie, well played, very human, very original with Viggo M. and Ed Harris. The two love scenes are very different from each other and shows the duality of the principal personage. William Hurt plays the "bro" and was nominated for an Oscar for his part in that movie and he really deserved it. The young son is vulnerable and strong in the same time. The direction of the actors is simply marvelous and it is one of my favorite action films.
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on July 19, 2014
Seen it more than once and enjoyed every time.
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on August 20, 2016
Good directing. Like the ending.
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on October 3, 2014
First class film and seller
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on November 3, 2007
A History of Violence is a rare foray into mainstream film for director
David is a solid effort,with good performances all
around.this is also change of pace from the roles Viggo Mortensen
usually plays. story concerns small town family Tom Stall(Mortensen)who
becomes local hero after killing 2 armed robbers at his diner.After all
the publicity Tom is forced to confront his past.the movie is not
boring by any means,but it is not overly compelling either. it gives us
just enough information to hold our interest.I liked the scenes of
violence.they were very vivid and authentic.There is no character
development in this movie,out of necessity to the plot line,so this
does not hinder the movie.Maria Bello is effective as the wife,but her
role is small and she is given very little to do.had she been given
more to do this movie may have been better.i did not like the ending at
all.i thought they could have explained a few things.if it weren't for
these two issues,i would have given it a higher it is this
movie gets a 3/5.
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