A History Of Violence (2005)
Starring: Viggo Mortensen (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy; The Prophecy) Maria Bello (Thank You For Smoking; Secret Window)
Directed By: David Croenenberg (eXistenZ; The Fly)
Overview: When a small-town diner owner plays hero and kills the men who would rob him, his face on the news gets him unwanted attention, and a revisiting of his haunted past.
Acting: Perhaps I've begun getting sucked into the whole 'familiar faces' of Hollywood celebrities, or maybe, knowing that this is full of stars might make one realize this WILL be good. Ed Harris, I mean come on. Perhaps I've just been wooed over years ago by the man who played Lucifer opposite Christopher Walken in The Prophecy, who knows. In this film, the roles are terrific. I'm not a huge fan of William Hurt in this one, but there's just something consistently haunting about the deliveries. Great job, Croenenberg!
Cinematography: Far different from the standard Croenenberg style, this isn't ripe with bleak filthy blue and green lighting gels, so that might make you come back from the Spider, eXistenZ, Crash predisposition you might have. This film uses a familiar shooting style, though some shots are haunting, mood-setting and intense. You all know I'm a fan of the hard-hitting high-art. This is more subdued.
Script: The dialogue was not something I remember standing out. The interaction between the husband and the wife and the strain brought out by these changes are well written, the questions posed by the sheriff are appropriate, the baddies have a subtle intimidation to them, but the kid was just too obviously scripted by a first-year hobby writer.
Plot: I thought this was going to be a poignant drama about how one day a man's past catches up to him, and how that past would try to get him to go back to his old ways in a 'come now, you're not happy here' pitch. When I saw 'based on the Graphic Novel' in the beginning credits I thought, "Ooo! This might just be a touch more Sin City that expected." I'd say this is more dramatic than comic book, but there's some clear streaks of intense heroism and bravado. I won't ruin the development but for a standard three-act tale, it's fun yet deep. I was impressed.
Mood: It's all about Ed Harris with his messed up eye and his nasty up-town grin. Always, you're firmly planted in this happy innocent small-town setting, but the more you watch, the more it gets invaded with a shattering of that innocence. A history of violence can catch up to someone, yes, that's the clear lesson, but can it also serve to aid one's present? The way this film poses that question is what makes this film great, there's no easy answers.
Overall Rating: 80% (You'll Look Back On This One Day...)
Aftertaste: This will fall into the realm of "Hmm, amazing movie, great twists, nice flow, kept me intrigued the whole time, but I get the feeling it'll fade too quickly, even though I don't want it to." I guess that's the bane of being a film fan. The other bane is a greater awareness of the cliché, or the big varsity football hopeful quarterback bully picks on the nerd of the group until he up and beats that bully senseless, underdog style. I was waiting to see when the cliché would stop and when the twist would start. Turns out that secondary storyline had nothing but time-filling predictability.