Film Review: A History of Violence

by Pat Johnson

If you’re a movie buff, you’ve seen this movie before. A man with a troubled past tries to put his past behind him only to have his past show up on his lawn with guns and a jones for sadism. But David Cronenberg approaches this movie with a more patient hand than most directors or writers would. As an audience, we’re voyeurs. The movie doesn’t go out of its way to explain the plot or why things are happening or what happened in the past. When you buy your ticket, you’re hopping into the sidecar and letting this crazy director take you on a memorable trip through the worst week of these characters' lives.

And it works. The movie introduces us to a set of events that would be predictable if it wasn’t presented so originally. The violence is frightening and shocking. The sex is graphic and disturbing. The characters are interesting and John Hurt is fantastic, as is Ed Harris.

Many people will complain that the movie is too slow or doesn’t make any sense. What I described as the feeling of ‘voyeurism’ many will call “crap.” My girlfriend and the pack of 18-year-olds that I saw this movie with all walked out with a definite impression of suckage. However, for my money, it was an original take on an old story and worth checking out.