Sunday, November 27, 2005

Movie Review: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (David Cronenberg, 2005)



I finally caught up to Cronenberg's latest earlier this week. Steve Erickson has the most interesting take I've seen on this film, although I must warn you there are SPOILERS within. If you read this movie as a straight-up thriller, it's merely a solid, tight film informed by some Cronenbergian stiltedness and gore. Which isn't a bad thing at all, but it is limited, especially if one gets the feeling from the film that the source material (which I haven't read) was the sort of heavyhanded musing about violence that characterizes a lot of the more serious yet still basically adolescent comic books.* Cronenberg has such a subtle, sure control over the tone of his film that I constantly felt he was elevating it above the ponderous macho-fest that a less skilled director would have produced. I think the key is that stiltedness I mentioned above--- it is not simply that the actors in this movie are playing roles, but that the characters they are playing are themselves playing roles, whether consciously or not. Which leads, of course, to the question of how much of our own personae are roles we play. Do we really have "true selves?"

*Credit should be given to Noel Murray for making this point first. Also, not that I have anything against adolescence per se, but as a general rule I've always preferred comic books that wear their adolescence on their sleeves to ones that try to hide it behind an air of "grittiness." But that's not to say that people like Frank Miller and Alan Moore don't produce some amazing work, but by and large I'd rather read an old issue of Avengers or Fantastic Four.

P.S. I must also mention that Maria Bello is smokin' hot in this movie, but what else is new?

Tallies:
David Cronenberg (d) 6
Viggo Mortensen 7
Maria Bello 3
Ed Harris 12
William Hurt 7
Howard Shore (m) 25

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