Everyone has something to hide.
Middleton, Indiana, is your average ordinary small town and Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen), working at a dinner and being the father of two, is your average ordinary guy. Nothing much ever happens in Middleton, Indiana, except for one day when two strangers enter Tom’s diner and threaten to kill and rape two of his coworkers, Tom has to act fast. Shooting both intruders and thereby saving his friends’ lives brings him overnight stardom. Journalists show up at his house, newspapers put Tom on their front page and so he suddenly becomes Middleton’s very own hero. Unfortunately, Tom’s sudden fame also attracts the Philadelphian mob (Ed Harris among others) to Middleton and he soon finds himself and his family threatened by the guys in black. In an attempt to save his family Tom needs to turn his back on the ones he loves and face his past one last time.
Director David Cronenberg‘s (Spider) adaptation of the History of Violence graphic novel is probably one of his best films to date. Given that the plot is somewhat simplistic and predictable it is nevertheless extremely gripping to see how the different events unfold. Apart from Viggo Mortensen in the lead role it is above all the supporting cast that needs to be praised for their outstanding performances. Ed Harris and William Hurt are both scene-stealers in this provocative piece that attempts to point out and visualize violence in all of its forms. Behind A History of Violence lies a cautionary tale that proves that violence is part
of the human being and human life and can never entirely be surrendered. This fact is demonstrated in a plethora of violent and extremely bloody shootouts as well as language, sex and domestic life in general. Despite its roots in the graphic novel and its slightly ironic tone, A History of Violence remains a thought-provoking piece of R-rated fiction that is obviously not for the faint of heart.
A history of the human condition. (2.5 out of 4 spools of barbwire)