Friday, October 07, 2005

A History of Violence (***)

David Cronenberg's latest has received rave reviews all over the place, and though it's a good film, it's not as fantastic as everyone's making it out to be. For one thing, the tone of the film is all over the place. It's weird, it's funny, it's cheesy--all in alternate measures. Some of it seems intended, but a lot of it feels accidental. The performances are all over the place. While Viggo Mortensen underplays to great effect as the sweet simpleton with a violent past, Maria Bello and the actor who plays his son are, to put it simply, not so good. That being said, there is much to enjoy here. The violence is sudden and grotesque and makes you question how much you should root for the bad guys to "get it." Those bad guys steal the movie. I have never enjoyed a William Hurt performance more than I did in this film. He just nails his few minutes of screen time and creates a highly memorable character. Ed Harris is also good. I like this movie the more I think about it. It's different, which is always appreciated. It's just received a bit too much fanfare accompanying its release. Cinema buffs will enjoy it more than others.

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