Monday, February 16, 2009

A History of Violence. A-

'A History of Violence,' directed by David Cronenberg, is the sort of movie that is full of meaning. It isn't about the plot, which explains the unorthodox, violent shootout two thirds through the film. It isn't about the good guy trying to kill the bad guy. Rather it takes a look at violence, and how those who use it can never fully repent for their actions. Human beings can find forgiveness for nearly any act they're guilty of. But consistently using violence, especially for money, does not warrant forgiveness. At least this is the opinion of some. I was reminded of Eastwood's 'Unforgiven,' and Steven's 'Shane,' which also present themes on the effect violence can have on a man, and how they can never completely escape their past. In 'Unforgiven' the central character could not escape it because of his mentality. Here, the central character, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) has pretty much escaped his past mentally. He seems to have completely let go. But what hasn't let go are his former associates, including his brother (William Hurt) and mobster Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris). It's interesting how much Stall, who arouses his former companions after heroically shooting two robbers, changes after his wife (Maria Bello) begins to grow suspicious. His voice becomes weak and his entire facial complexion looses all of its confidence and sincerity. It's almost as though he has become a boy. Of course, with a title such as it is, 'A History of Violence,' is quite gruesome. But it is also very thoughtful. It isn't over done in the least. The acing is very subtle and not overly dramatic, and Cronenberg's direction and Josh Olson's screenplay are simply magnificent. The average moviegoer may find this a tad disappointing. But for those who love the main themes in old Westerns, and who appreciate thought-provoking stories, then this is pretty much a masterpiece. One thing that I did however find odd was the opening scene. It was beautifully crafted, but it didn't seem to make too much sense. Oh well. Nothing is perfect.

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