The Movie Buffer

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dvd Review: A History of Violence

I skipped this one in the theatres because it looked like the typical mobster type movie with the benefit of having David Cronenberg as the director. I agree that a big name director can pull in more viewers – Quentin Tarantino, M. Knight Shyamalan, Bryan Singer, these guys bring in people no matter what they make. But this sort of promotion puts me off seeing the movies because it seems like a parlor trick. After the Oscar nods and the critical acclaim that it garnered after it was released, I decided to give it a chance.

My fears were confirmed when I started watching the film, it was a typical mobster movie. Everything about this movie was standard. Cronenberg did put his signature touches in the film but they seem lackluster in the weak narrative. The story revolves around a man, Tom Stall(Viggo Mortensen), who kills two criminals to save his friends. This act of compassion draws the attention of a mob boss from Philadelphia and thus an unsophisticated story of intrigue begins. The mobster from Philly, played by Ed Harris, pursues Mortensen to get him to confront his past and make amends for it. As Harris drops more and more back-story in our laps, any interesting facets of Mortensen are utterly exposed. This movie was billed as a thriller but it spoon fed the viewer with all the pertinent details so that someone that had only a passing glance at the film could understand it. In this respect, the movie fails. Also, the pacing of the film hurts the story because it never gets a chance to build up any suspense.

Cronenberg doesn’t take any chances with this movie. He makes all the safe moves with the plot and he ends up leaving the viewer unfulfilled. It seemed like he really tried to make a stylish movie but he doesn’t succeed. The acting was equally dismal. Mortensen was stiff and unconvincing as the main character whose past is sketchy at best. Maria Bello looks like she’s aged about 10 years since “The Cooler”, which was made only 2 year before. Her portrayal of a concerned wife came off as clumsy and amateurish. I know she can act. She could have tried to make it look like she actually gave a damn. The whole section of the film that dealt with the kids was laughable. Sure, bullies don’t need a reason to pick on the nerd, so catching that ball is enough of a reason to set him off. The bully and his motivations bring up so many unanswered questions that it drags the whole movie down.

The only redeeming factor of this move was the cinematography. The shots were very well composed and conveyed the weak story in a straightforward way. The locations looked how I would imagine a small town in the heartland of America would look. The cuts between scenes and the mixing of the shots were done very well. It was a very good looking film.

This movie deserves about a 3/10 or 1 star mainly because there was nothing story-wise that was interesting, the characters and the acting were bad and the key to “twist” of the movie was brought up so early that there was nothing to build up. Though the cinematography was good, but it could not save this train from coming off the tracks.


  • You mean Viggo is just as stiff an actor as Orlando Bloom? Say it ain't so!

    By Blogger Muffin, at 12:22 AM  

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