4/10
A simple tale of a closet mobster dad.
10 April 2013
After a thrilling first 45 minutes in which the viewer is introduced to the interesting central premise of the story (a seemingly mild-mannered man in a small town has a past he'd like to forget), this film disintegrates amid an avalanche of ridiculous dialogue, unbelievable situations and unbelievable characters. This makes you realise that the aforementioned premise is itself unbelievable, that not even the 'magic' of film can paper over that crack, and that in fact those first 45 minutes were a wasted cinematic journey.

The ludicrous script is strung together by a series of violent and bloody scenes which are all strangely similar to each other - so the scenes of violence end up being boring as well as exploitative and comic-book in nature.

I wasn't surprised to find that the script was based on a graphic-novel (they generally lead to the worst kinds of film adaptation) and as one of his most mainstream films this marks a low point in David Cronenberg's work. In the past, even when his films have been flawed I have still usually found them original and interesting, but A History of Violence sees him capitulate most completely to commercial Hollywood tastes - it's a shame.

A very strong cast fights hard against seemingly impossible odds - but their fate was sealed long before ... during the writing process. At one point Sheriff Sam says, "... I'm sorry Tom but it just doesn't seem to fit together...". I know how you feel Sam, I know how you feel.
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