A History of Violence (2005)

Director: David Cronenberg

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, Ashton Holmes, William Hurt     

Bit Part: Stephen McHattie (criminally - so to speak - underused)

Fact: the film is based on John Wagner's graphic novel. Wagner used to write for the quickly banned, (but never forgotten) seventies British comic 'Action'.

Lie: David Cronenberg's house number is 1664.

In one lineA quiet family man has a disturbing past.


Mortensen plays Tom Stall, the owner of a small town Indiana diner who becomes feted after killing two low-lifes who were trying to rob his diner. Harris plays Carl Fogerty (an odd choice of character name) a Philadelphia gang boss who thinks he recognises Stall as the brother of a rival gangster and sets about quietly terrorising his family.

And that's about all I can tell you in terms of plot without spoiling the film.


Lots of people I know were disappointed with this film. The film's graphic novel genesis is often evident in its clunky dialogue and its occasional lapses into melodrama, but there are some great performances (Harris steals the film - again), lots of top-notch violence and there's a pleasing brooding atmosphere built up the first forty minutes or so. 

The weakest performance (strangely) is from William Hurt (disappointingly not called Kenny Roberts), and it IS distracting that he's slowly morphing into Jack Charlton.

Not his best, but anything by Cronenberg is worth watching and it's certainly a huge improvement on the embarrassing Crash - although I wouldn't wear any curlable slippers during the Bello/Mortensen sex scene.