A History of Violence (boxed spoilers)

I searched but couldn’t find a thread on this, so…

I just got back from seeing it and I’m still shaken up. I feel like I need to catch my breath–several times. Viggo Mortensen was great, Maria Bello deserves a nomination, and Ed Harris scared the crap outta me. I thought William Hurt smirked too much, but maybe it’s just me.

I was rather surprised–though perhaps I shouldn’t have been–by the number of people in the theater who clapped loudly when the teenage boy beat the stuffing out of the bully, and later when he shot one of the thugs on the front lawn; and when Tom/Joey killed all those other guys.
I understand that it was a release of tension, but I don’t think those scenes were meant to spark a celebration of the violence and deaths.

The scene on the stairs will have you talking if you see it, and it was just as disturbing as the scenes mentioned above.
And on that note, a slight rant to the people in the audience, again: Was it really necessary for you to whoop and holler and giggle just because a man and woman engaged in sex and you happened to see a bit of patootie? I’m starting to wonder if I should go to the late shows instead of the matinees. It would be worth the extra bucks if I could watch it with people who would take things a bit more seriously.

The ending scene is powerful in its silence. It leaves you to ponder the violent undercurrent that runs through so many people, even the ones you think you know.

In response to this, and also the clapping during those scenes of violence and retribution, I think you just have to accept that this is “one of those” movies that you average audience is going to completely misunderstand and take the wrong way. It’s kind of like those audiences that hooted and guffawed and treated Sideways as a “Capital C Comedy” - they’re missing the entire point of the film and trying to fit it into their simplistic idea of a genre movie - in this case, a “Crime Thriller” - rather than understanding it for what it really is.

I thought the film was great - Cronenberg at his most (dare I say) mature and refined. Though I read the graphic novel yeras ago and thought it was only ok, I think they’ve made a great film out of the source material.

In regards to the ending/backstory reveal, I do think that the original book’s was much stronger -

Joey and Ritchie were not brothers, but best friends who pulled a massive hit on a meeting of mob bosses when they were just teenagers. Joey finds out that Ritchie is still alive and has been tortured and surgically dismembered for the past 20 years in retribution, and Joey returns to NYC to save him and put an end to things once and for all.

But to film all of that would have added at least another hour to the film and probably a ton of money, and I thought that the revised, abbreviated version was fitting and poetic.

I haven’t read the book, but based on what you wrote about the original ending, I’m inclined to agree with you. The way they did it in the film is preferable.

I saw it tonight, and I just had to say that I thought that William Hurt was horribly miscast. I didn’t believe him for a second and found his presence completely jarring and his performance weak. Sometimes casting against type is interesting and works. Not this time, IMHO.

Saw it last night and was stunned by it – as is my usual reaction to Cronenberg. Duh.

It didn’t have the killer visuals I expect from him – there’s usually at least one shot that is profoundly right and beautiful – but the way he set up the depths of some of the scenes was interesting; the flat-plane three-dimensionality of the scene on the lawn when Ed Harris comes to the house, for instance. Speaking of which scene:

My god, at the end, when he’s all bloody and he embraces his son … my god.

Way more violence than most movies I see – but an amazing movie. Agree on Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen deserving recognition for their acting.

There was also inappropriate (IMHO) laughing and clapping in the audience – I’ve gotten to used to going to the indie theater, I think, this was a normal megaplex – but I have to admit I laughed (release of tension, really!) and the scene at Richie’s house when

he askes the garotter, “How did you fuck that up?” and shoots him.

I did enjoy this movie, and Maria Bello, who I didn’t know much about before, is now on my list of hot and talented actresses. I felt sorry for poor Tom, but I think he’ll be ok if he can explain everything.
I need to know, though…was I the only one who immediatly thought of A History of Violins? Not to make fun of the movie but just because I’m wired that way? I kept thinking of all of the parody trailers they could do…

I really enjoyed the movie- it’s definitely one that I’ll have to get on DVD.

A question on your opinion of the ending, though-

Did she take him back at the ending?
The kids definitely re-accepted him, as evidenced by them helping him get dinner, but what about his wife?
I say she did, my wife says she didn’t. As a result, I found the movie ultimately had a happy ending, but my wife found it depressing.

Hm, on the ending,

I think she did – because if she weren’t going to, she would have pitched a fit immediately when he walked in.

Well that’s certainly what my wife did when [spoiler]I came home after murdering my brother and a bunch of underworld thugs.

Women! :D[/spoiler]

Great Google ads for this thread: Crime Scene Cleanup!

I saw this and also enjoyed it. Not one of my favorites, but I liked it.

As for the ending… I think she took him back. My husband thinks so as well because she looks up at him in the last shot.

I agree with you.[spoiler]I’m pretty sure that we were meant to take it to mean that he was welcomed back by the entire family. When he arrives home, he takes a long look at the outside light, (which has been left on,) and then looks down. The outside light is a sort of modern “candle in the window.” It being on implies that they are hoping that he will return. He averts his eyes after a while, which gives us the sense that it’s him that has doubts about whether or not he deserves to come back.

A table setting is likewise standard shorthand for whether or not someone is welcome in a household. When his daughter gets his, it’s not from the cupboards – it’s been laid out in preparation for his return. His wife (who presumably prepared the meal) made enough to serve him if he showed up.

His wife’s reaction when he comes in the door is solemn rather than effusive, but I think that’s because everyone’s been put through the wringer. She’s not looking at him, but what is she doing? To me, it looks like a gesture of prayer – head bowed, and hands folded, left over right, to prominently display her wedding band. Personally, it suggests to me that she has been praying for his safe return, and is now offering a prayer of thanksgiving – or she’s praying that it’s really over, or something along those lines.

I think maybe your wife was misled by the sorrowful, regretful look (and what a look! choke) that is the last thing that Mortensen registers, and is interpreting it to mean that he’s sorry he’s lost his family. I think it’s that he is, really, a good man, and his sorrow and regret is over the grief that he’s caused his family. If anyone thinks he doesn’t deserve a place at the table, it’s him – but he’s home. Ultimately, a happy ending – just not unreasonably saccharine.[/spoiler]

Another comment on the ending:

It seemed clear to me from the look on Bello’s face that she was taking him back, but she also knew what it would be like from now on to have to live with a man she had thought was the best man ever in her life. She has to live with him with all these awful memories, after all they had been through and knowing who he is/was and what he’d done. It reminded me a bit of the ending of Presumed Innocent, when Harrison Ford realizes that his wife was the perpetrator of a murder, but he stays with her because he does not want to take his son’s mother away from him.

My two cents on the ending:

I think the wife took him back, but the family’s silence means they’ll have a hard time getting back to normal because he’s no longer the same husband and father that they thought he was.

A great movie. Cronenberg rarely disappoints.

I thought it was good, but far from great. The real bummer for me was that it could have been great. There was a good 45 minutes of boring non-relevant stuff that should’ve been cut from it. And some of the dialog was badly written (or acted, I dunno). Not a lot of bad dialog, but enough that 3 or 4 times I was jarred from the “living in the movie” state to realizing I’m watching a movie.

“Dead Zone” was one of my favorite movies. Haven’t really seen a lot of other Cronenberg work.

I agree completely, and also they realize that they can never know if and when his past will again come back to threaten them; their sense of home as a “safe” place is gone forever.

I guess I’m in the minority. I found Maria Bello’s acting to be the weakest part of the movie.

John Hurt didn’t bug me all that much. It was a little unbelievable to think that Ed Harris’ character worked for John Hurt’s charater

William Hurt. [/nitpick]

Thanks. Somehow I always get that emaciated British actor with Mr. Body Heat.

Ok, I hope 13 days since the last post I can post unboxed spoilers. Spoiler-boxes don’t work so well with my browser so I don’t like using them. Just in case…
My wife and I saw this tonight and we both absolutely hated it. We came very close to walking out of the theatre several times.

Just to run down a few of the weaknesses while they’re still relatively fresh in my mind (I’m already working on bleaching this film from my memory):

-The entire opening sequence was unnecessary. In fact, the first 25 minutes were unnecessary. I thought the two criminals starting their morning in ssslllooowww mmmoootttiiiooonn was going to have a purpose, but like most of the things in this movie, it didn’t. When Tom/Joey killed the thugs in the diner, I leaned over to my wife and whispered, “This could’ve been the opening scene,” and she agreed. We didn’t need the little amount of backstory that we got on two characters who were about to get wasted after a few short lines of dialogue. We certainly didn’t need the hype of the one guy shooting the little girl in cold-blood. It’s not that it really offended me or grossed me out, just that it was gratuitous and completely unnecessary to the story.

-The entire sub-plot involving Tom’s son was pointless. My wife played softball from elementary school all the way through division 1 in college and couldn’t stop laughing at the one kid for being pissed off that Tom’s son caught his pop-fly. This whole storyline was way too contrived, poorly acted, and went nowhere.

-The “villain” dies halfway through the movie, everything continues to stall and drag on, and then we’re introduced to a new villain who is . . . funny? That was really out of place and seemed wedged-in.

-Viggo Mortensen was completely unbelievable as an east-coast mobster. The couple times he tried to put on the accent sounded really jarring.

-The sex scenes were uncomfortable. Absolutely no chemistry between Viggo and Maria Bello.

This was absolutely the worst movie I’ve paid to see in years, and to put that in perspective, I just saw Doom last weekend.

A lady I work with has been urging me to see this for the last several weeks, claiming that it is “a modern-day Godfather.” I want my money back.