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A History of Violence (2005)

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A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.



(graphic novel), (graphic novel) | 1 more credit »
2,763 ( 121)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 37 wins & 78 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gerry Quigley ...
Deborah Drakeford ...
Bill MacDonald ...


This is the story of a mild-mannered man, named Tom Stall, who becomes a local hero through an act of violence, he lives a happy and quiet life with his lawyer wife and their two children in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana. But one night their idyllic existence is shattered when Tom foils a vicious attempted robbery in his diner. Sensing danger, he takes action and saves his customers and friends in the self-defense killings of two-sought-after criminals. Heralded as a hero, Tom's life is changed overnight, attracting a national media circus, which forces him into the spotlight. Uncomfortable with his newfound celebrity, Tom tries to return to the normalcy of his ordinary life only to be confronted by a mysterious and threatening man who arrives in town believing Tom is the man who wronged him in the past. As Tom and his family fight back against this case of mistaken identity and struggle to cope with their changed reality, they are forced to confront their relationships and the... Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong brutal violence, graphic sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

30 September 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una historia violenta  »


Box Office


$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$515,992, 25 September 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$31,493,782, 5 February 2006
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene where Mortensen's character meets his brother's henchman in the bar, two TVs in the background are showing harness racing from Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. The distinctive voice of long-time Ontario Jockey Club announcer Frank Salive can be clearly heard in the first few moments of the scene. See more »


Early in the movie, Tom and his family are sitting to breakfast. Tom pours some orange juice into his glass and sets the pitcher down. The view cuts away, but when it comes back the glass is much fuller than it was before. See more »


[first lines]
William Orser: [Leland and Billy walk out of the motel room] So we keep headin' east?
Leland Jones: Yeah, that's the idea.
William Orser: Stay out of the big cities?
Leland Jones: Uh-huh.
William Orser: I think I'm tired.
Leland Jones: [Leland smiles] Yeah. Me, too.
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Featured in The 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards (2006) See more »


Club Hoppin'
Written by Michael Foster and Darrell 'Digga' Branch
Performed by Blinky Blink
Courtesy of Spirit Music Group
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Straw Dogs comparisons be damned, this is a riveting experience that finds Cronenberg bringing his "A" game.
17 November 2008 | by See all my reviews

We are in a a small community driven town, restaurant owner Tom Stall becomes the hero of the town when he shoots and kills two murdering robbers at the restaurant. Not long after, facially scarred Carl Fogarty arrives in town proclaiming that Tom is actually a former gangster from Philadelphia who needs to go back to pay his dues. As Fogarty and his Hench Men put the pressure on, Stall and his family are in danger of being overwhelmed with violence and mistrust.

One thing that can never be said about David Cronenberg is that he is a very predictable director, his output of course, if we are all honest, is very up and down, bewildering critics and fans in equal measure. Thankfully A History Of Violence finds Cronenberg on particularly devilish form, taking the graphic novel origins of the piece, written by John Wagner & Vince Locke, and crafting a modern day Western that is using violence as some sort of escalating disease. This is the point surely? The graphic violence (handled with morose tension by Cronenberg) is the main character in the film, regardless of any past history that Stall may have had, the violence arrives into this family, totally unwanted and unexpected, and then latches on to them to maybe destroy them?

With that point of interest to note, A History Of Violence can be seen as a blood brother to Cronenberg's wonderful remake of The Fly, the unwanted entering the fray and spreading its disease to the point of no return. There is the use of the husband and wife's ongoing sex life as a seriously smart strand in the escalating story, where once at the beginning there is fluffy erotic intercourse, then the on going danger in their lives brings darkness and borderline sadism, it's very relevant, as is the son axis as he goes through a dramatic change when the violence and threats engulf the family. Cronenberg gleefully ties all the murky threads together to ask us for a reaction to the violence up there on the screen.

The cast, with the exception of a fish out of water performance from Ashton Holmes as the son, Jack, is fine. Viggo Motensen plays the duality of the role as Tom Stall with much verve, while Maria Bello shows exactly why she shouldn't be working for food in hopeless miscast assignments like The Mummy 3. Ed Harris gives us a nice line in villain duties, and William Hurt crops up late in the piece to almost steal the film with his darkly disturbing menacing point of worth. Peter Suschitzky's photography enhances the primary colours for added impact when the mood swings down dark roads, and Howard Shore's musical score is constantly ominous, where he blends his own score for Silence of the Lambs with a sort of Berlioz like edginess.

All in all it's a very interesting and sneakily crafty picture that above all else shows that when on form, Cronenberg still has very much to offer modern age cinema. Now, about Straw Dogs? 8.5/10

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