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Movie Review: A History of Violence

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My first Cronenberg film was Scanners. I’d like to maintain I “discovered” him back then but the truth is I didn’t know who he was and only recently made the connection to that dimly remembered “B” movie. I say dimly remembered and that too is true except for the exploding head. That I remember like it was my first Roller Derby game.

In Los Angeles as a rebellious teenager I switched back and forth between the moon landing and Roller Derby. Roller Derby had more action and only time will tell which had more historical significance. But I digress.

Crash was the first Cronenberg film I went to see as a Cronenberg film. I wasn’t overly impressed as I recall but it was pre-review website so I have no written record of my feelings at the time. No matter, A History of Violence is as distinct as any film I’ve seen in the past six months. The immediacy of the camera, the raw passion of the gifted cast, the intense and unfiltered violence and its grisly aftermath all testify to the film’s originality and branding.

A History of Violence is about a small town diner operator crossing paths with some major gangster types. What the gifted Mr. Cronenberg is telling us is not as clear as his cinematic stylings. We are all capable of violence? Violence is always wrong? We can’t escape our past? The family that kills together stays together? I’ll be mulling this one over for a while, help would be appreciated.

In the meantime, kudos to Ed Harris as the grouchy gangster, Maria Bello as the surprised wife, Viggo Mortensen as the surprising husband, and young Ahston Holmes as their pugalistic progeny.

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