Friday, October 1, 2010

You're living the American Dream. You really bought into it, didn't you? You've been this other guy, almost as long as you've been yourself

No 448 - A History of Violence
Director - David Cronenberg

At first glance, this film could be seen as 'Viggo Mortensen goes Bourne' as a man has his life shattered when he realises he is very good at killing people, that it is second nature. However, where Bourne is all about the action, the mystery, the suspense.... A History of Violence is all about the drama and the repercussions. This is not a world where you can incapacitate someone with a newspaper and just walk away. Here, there are repercussions.
The film begins by showing 2 things. Firstly, that Viggo's Tom Stall is a blessed man. He lives in a wonderfully happy community, he has children which get on with each other and a sexy wife who dresses as a cheerleader for his delectation (incidentally.... I can't think of many films which actually show cunnilingus... so fair play to Cronenberg). It is all very happy and it is all very quiet. However, the second thing that the beginning of the film shows us is that evil men exist. The film actually starts by following two vicious killers and showing the bloody repercussions of their actions.
It is when they attempt to rob Tom, and he fights back, that the Bourne similarities come into play, but also where the film gets more interesting.

You see, if you were looking at the trailer, you might assume that the film is about a man who realises he is a killer and who is then followed by a one eyed hoodlum (Ed Harris on wonderfully terrifying form) trying to get him back into organised crime. And whilst this is PART of the film, it certainly isn't the main drive of the film.
This is a film about how people react to Tom's actions. How Tom reacts, how the town reacts, how criminals around the country react. But most importantly, it is a film about how Tom's family react to his actions. How they go from him being a hero to him being a terror. How Tom's history may be (as the title implies) more violent than previously thought.

The film may have this idea of trust and truth at its heart but is still a Cronenberg film, so it is interplayed with some very visceral and graphic violence. All in all it makes a fascinating and very real feeling film.
Though, after recently watching The Road, and seeing a stair-based sex scene in A History of Violence, I've realised something about serious actor Viggo Mortensen:

Though, I think Lord of the Rings might be safe....