Sunday, October 18, 2009

#448: A History of Violence (2005)

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello & Ed Harris

Tom Stall is a small-town diner owner who lives a decent life with his lawyer wife Edie and his two children. His whole existence is brought under question when two armed robbers enter the diner, threatening the workers and customers. Tom fends of the attackers, bringing his name and image to the national stage. Soon, a new mysterious figure enters the diner. Mobster Carl Fogarty saw Tom's image on the news and is convinced that Tom is actually named Joey Cusack, a man who Carl wants to bring an end to an old dispute. Throughout the next few weeks, Tom faces accusations about his own identity while he discovers that violence is a necessary evil in America.

This film belongs in a different time. The style is reminiscent of Eastwood's films, with a simple story line presented in such a clear manner that we can't help but be absorbed into the story. Viggo Mortensen presents Tom Stall as such an enigma that we find ourselves constantly guessing what he's thinking.

The outline of the plot itself is wonderfully presented, starting as a very simple story of a small-town man put in the spotlight. As time passes, the situation grows and grows until it all runs out of control. And finally, after the storm, we are left to brood over all that had happened.

I don't really have any complaints against this film despite a bit of recycled material coming from Howard Shore. His score frequently makes use of the open fifth to support the openness of the landscape of rural America, but so much of the music sounds just like Lord of the Rings that we start to wonder if somehow Mortensen might be the cause!

A great, straightforward film. Two thumbs up!

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • During an interview, Viggo Mortensen stated that during the shooting of the first bar scene with Ed Harris he could not stop laughing, and as a result, the scene had to be re-shot several times. Due to Viggo Mortensen's behavior, Ed Harris completed the scene without pants; he only wore his underwear, yet this cannot be seen as the bar table impedes our view. Thus, Viggo Mortensen had to act seriously while Ed Harris was not wearing any pants, and this is the scene that is used in the movie.
  • Has the distinction of being the last major Hollywood movie to be released in the VHS format.

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