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A History of Violence

So Painful It Hurts

Despite an intriguing title and a promising cast A History of Violence is a jumbled mess of a movie. Directed by David Cronenberg (Crash, The Fly), the movie listlessly follows the unraveling of a man's life after his violent past is exposed. As its title suggests, the movie is graphically violent in a very real way. There are no horror movie shenanigans or stylized gore fests to shield you from the punches and the blood.

When two psychopaths wander into Tom Stall's (Viggo Mortensen) sleepy small town diner in order to rob as well as kill him and the other occupants, they unwittingly kick off a sequence of unexpected events. After the soft-spoken Tom suddenly turns into Rambo and violently takes the murderers down, thus becoming the local hero, an unsavory mobster, Ed Harris as Carl Fogaty, shows up at his diner insisting that Tom is actually a mob goon from Philly. What follows is an exercise in patience.

Not only is the acting, with the exception of William Hurt in a cameo, sub-par and painful to witness but the story is also convoluted and the dialogue stilted and forced. The poor chemistry, particularly between that of its two main actors, Mortensen and Maria Bello (who plays his wife), regardless of a raw and explicit sex scene, only contributes to the sense of artifice shrouding the movie.

By the time the credits roll, you are left wondering what the film was about in the first place.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars