Monday, June 19, 2006

A History of Violence

Sorry, no witty titles today.

I watched this a few days ago, and unlike most movies I've seen recently (coughX3cough) it managed to really stay with me. Probably because it's a good movie.. (coughX3cough). Heh.

I've never been the biggest Cronenberg fan, in fact I'm certain this is the only film I own that he's made. But, I'm not a newcomer to his style of filmmaking. After reading the graphic novel (which I reviewed here) I was pretty certain he'd be able to do justice to the story and definitely make it more visually appealing (nothing against Vince Locke, his art just looked kind of sloppy and rushed in the novel). I was right, but I definitely didn't expect the changes that were made in the script.

While it disappointed me I couldn't really find any fault with them. In fact with the exception of the "wrapped up too neatly" ending I couldn't find fault with anything in the film. Hurt rightly deserved his supporting actor nod (and definitely deserved the win) and I honestly can't believe it wasn't at least nominated for best picture. Viggo Mortensen is wonderful as Tom, bringing subtle nuances, like the flashes of enjoyment during his moments of violence, that you can't really get on an illustrated page. You really can see the beast that's been dormant in this guy for so many years. Peter MacNeill give an excellent, overlooked performance as the town sheriff and Maria Bello is just beautifully tragic. When she discovers Tom's true identity, the flood of emotions that she exhibits is just astounding. And Ed Harris just kicks ass.

I love that Cronenberg didn't try to make Richie and his boys out to be these type of superhuman hitmen, from the get go you realize Tom is definitely the smartest man in the room. Of course as he's walking into Richie's house you also know that he's going to be the only one walking out, but I got the feeling that it's more or less an intentional feeling. It's not really about settling the past it's about trying to save the future, his future with his family, no matter what it costs.

As I said, the ending seemed a bit too "look, he got his life back" for me, I'd have preferred leaving it more or less open to interpretation. But really outside of that it's a brilliant film. However, the DVD leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps we'll see a Criterion release in the future (I can only hope) a la Videodrome. If any movie in the last year needs it, A History of Violence is it.


No comments: