A History of Violence (2005)

DailyView: Day 195, Movie 277

I had stumbled across a book I bought a few years ago by YouTube movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann, called The Film Buff’s Bucket List: The 50 Movies of the 200s to See Before You Die. I remember purchasing the book because I always enjoyed and respected the opinions of Stuckmann. After finding it tonight, I flipped through to see if there were any good choices that I could use for the DailyView. In the 2004-2007 section of the book, I found an entry for A History of Violence.

I had heard the title before, but I really had no idea about the premise or of the plot, which was basically what Stuckmann had written. The three paragraphs that Stuckmann had written intrigued me and I went to try and find it. I rented it on Amazon Prime and, with a nice run time of 1 hour and 36 minutes, I had found my DailyView binge movie for the night.

Once it started, I was completely swept up in the story and it took me on an unexpected journey through the life of Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and his family. I had no idea where the film was going to take me, but I was all aboard from the start.

Tom was a small town man working at a diner, with his lawyer wife Edie (Maria Bello), his high school aged son Jack (Ashton Holmes) and little daughter Sarah (Heidi Hayes). Then, one night, a pair of violent men arrived at the diner with every intention of causing trouble and hurting people. Tom jumped into action and was able to kill the two perpetrators in self-defense.

Tom became a local cable news sensation as the media arrived and wanted to know everything about Tom. Unfortunately, the word got out to other factions who were interested in Tom and his past.

This was such a great movie. Viggo Mortensen was absolutely sensational as Tom, one minute mild-mannered local man and the next a viciously violent killer. William Hurt appeared later in the film and I will not spoil the role, but he was excellent too. The performances were all fantastic.

There were some times in the early part of the story that made you think that Jack would be at the center of the plot. He had to face off with a bully at school and he responded in a violent manner, but this was just a part of the story, with everything leading back to Tom.

David Cronenberg directed the film and does a really solid job of providing a contrast between the lifestyle that Tom and his family was living with the past world that seemingly would not stay in the past. The violence was brutal, but worked beautifully in the context it appeared in. There were plenty of scenes that leave the viewer uncomfortable and ill at ease, which is great and works with the tone and theme that Cronenberg was going for.

The final scene of the film left me a little cold, but I believe the uncertainty and the uncomfortableness I was feeling, along with the desire to have things work out more was something the creators were going for. Even though I wanted more, the ending was the perfect ending for what Cronenberg was going for.

If you can go into the movie with as little knowledge as you can, as I was able to do, this is a wonderful and surprising film.

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