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7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 658 Ratings

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  1. Nov 8, 2012
    10
    It is very rare that a film is so compelling that it keeps my eyes absolutely glued to the screen from its opening sequence to its final frame. Surely, A History of Violence is one of the great films of the decade.
  2. MikeL.
    Nov 11, 2005
    10
    C'mon people - METAPHOR! The look of the film, the performances and the story play with/twist standardized forms from the inside out. Its supposed to feel awkward and stilted, that's the idea! The film can feel uncomfortable to watch cuz it mirrors our own superficial, hair's breadth distance from a history of the worst kind of violence. From apehood to rape to the miriad C'mon people - METAPHOR! The look of the film, the performances and the story play with/twist standardized forms from the inside out. Its supposed to feel awkward and stilted, that's the idea! The film can feel uncomfortable to watch cuz it mirrors our own superficial, hair's breadth distance from a history of the worst kind of violence. From apehood to rape to the miriad abuses of power, the human race is still in its infancy and we're still dealing with all this stuff. This movie sheds a light on a culture which was to a large degree born of violence. Its a difficult film - sometimes difficult films are good - great in this case. Expand
  3. Jan 3, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This movie is phenomenal: from the long take, no cutting opening to the incongruity of Ed Harris' car in the small town to Viggo experiencing a rebirth after having killed his brother, to the brilliant and wordless scene that closes the film, this movie is almost virtuoso beyond belief. This film is just about perfect. Expand
  4. AAW
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Best movie of the year. Extraordinary. Go now. Do not wait.
  5. Loreli
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Superb movie. Acting is excellent. May catch mainstream audiences, who exclusively want entertainment, off guard. They will find themselves not only entertained but also pondering the movie and its questioning of violence and identify for days afterwards. Cronenberg has taken the age-old themes of the classic genres of the Western and revenge bloodfests and imbued it with a provocative Superb movie. Acting is excellent. May catch mainstream audiences, who exclusively want entertainment, off guard. They will find themselves not only entertained but also pondering the movie and its questioning of violence and identify for days afterwards. Cronenberg has taken the age-old themes of the classic genres of the Western and revenge bloodfests and imbued it with a provocative point of view. Is violence an ugly but necessary means to an end if your intention is noble, or is it always just ugly and self-defeating? Does the moral cost of violence negate its use in all circumstances? Can one ever escape your past no matter how much you have managed to reinvent yourself? Although he has successfully defeated all threats to his idyllic life, has Tom Stall destroyed ultimately destroyed that life in his attempts to keep it? Is he any longer "the best man" his wife has ever known? These are just some of the questions I came away with after viewing the movie, and there aren't too many other films I have seen lately that have done that for me. Expand
  6. RachelH.
    Oct 9, 2005
    8
    Great movie overall. The only thing I really questioned is the ending.....the plot twists were excellent, they kept you wondering the whole way through. Especially good performance by Mortensen.
  7. AlexE.
    Oct 1, 2005
    10
    You don't realize just how much this movie has affected you until it is over, the credits are rolling, Howard Shore's subtly haunting score is playing softly, and you realize that for the first time in a long time, a movie has caused you to feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. The final scene in this film is heartbreaking, chilling, and incredibly unsettling. I will You don't realize just how much this movie has affected you until it is over, the credits are rolling, Howard Shore's subtly haunting score is playing softly, and you realize that for the first time in a long time, a movie has caused you to feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. The final scene in this film is heartbreaking, chilling, and incredibly unsettling. I will not tell you exactly what it contains, but I will say that it is no sort of "twist" ending and it is almost entirely silent. That one scene is enough to put this movie well onto my "Best of 2005" list, but the rest is what really cements its place. Cronenberg plays the audience like a fiddle for an hour and a half, taking our desensitization against violence on film and throwing it in our faces so that we can no longer look away. The experience of watching this in a crowded theater is exhilarating, as it seems the entire audience is sharing something very, very powerful. Great work from Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, and Ed Harris. See this if you have wondered where serious mainstream cinema has been hiding. Expand
  8. alicew.
    Oct 24, 2005
    9
    one of the best movies i have seen in a long time.
  9. MikeG.
    Oct 4, 2005
    9
    From the eerily silent first moments of the film, Cronenberg captures mood and never lets go of it throughout. A History of Violence might have been a mediocre gore fest in the hands of a lesser director, but Cronenberg keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film and leaves you wondering about not only these characters and this story, but about the world we live in. From the eerily silent first moments of the film, Cronenberg captures mood and never lets go of it throughout. A History of Violence might have been a mediocre gore fest in the hands of a lesser director, but Cronenberg keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film and leaves you wondering about not only these characters and this story, but about the world we live in. Viggo Mortensen slips marvelously into the lead role, capturing the duality of his life perfectly: there is an anonimity in his character that's delivered adroitly. There are some small holes in the plot, but you won't find yourself thinking about them until long after you leave the theater. William Hurt's performance is a little weird - is his character supposed to be funny? - but this is quibbling. A History of Violence is a movie worth seeing. Expand
  10. randyw.
    Oct 6, 2005
    9
    A brilliant movie; one that makes the intelligent viewer question the place and role of violence in American society, regardless of circumstance. One can see the master touch of a director whose Canadian viewpoint and perspective on American life reveals much about the dark underside of that society.
  11. LingX.
    Oct 6, 2005
    7
    A walking teapot that boiled and went on a killing spree. that's just about it.
  12. RJSamson
    Oct 7, 2005
    10
    It's a movie about character. If someone else directed it, it may turn commercial. But Cronenberg's style has definitely drawn sincere realism to one of the best movies of the year. Subtle yet strong. What more can I say?
  13. DeWayneP.
    Sep 25, 2005
    9
    Excellent film. May not be everyone's cup of tea, because it's talks about our relationship to violence and how it reflects who we are as a society. Seeing how seductive our temptations are towards violence and how we use it for sexual fulfilment, revenge, as well as how we decide right (whistle-blower) from wrong (stool pigeon), or is it the other way around? One should Excellent film. May not be everyone's cup of tea, because it's talks about our relationship to violence and how it reflects who we are as a society. Seeing how seductive our temptations are towards violence and how we use it for sexual fulfilment, revenge, as well as how we decide right (whistle-blower) from wrong (stool pigeon), or is it the other way around? One should approach this film not as an entertaining enterprise i.e. a Mel Gibson film, but as a film to give us pause and reflection as to who we are and have been. And it's okay, we can be reflective and critical and still be American...really...It's only a movie. Expand
  14. SebaD.
    Feb 1, 2006
    7
    well done Maria Bello, beautiful performance you did. Now tell me if there s someone who really believe that Mortenesen was like "the carmelita descalza"?
  15. Jared
    Feb 20, 2006
    10
    I'm sorry, if you think this movie is predictable and boring, then you weren't watching the same movie as I was. What I saw was a brilliant, haunting, shocking portrayal of the American Dream being ripped apart by violence and lies, leaving behind the ugly truth that can seeth beneath such "perfect" families. The belief that we can run from who we are and change without regard I'm sorry, if you think this movie is predictable and boring, then you weren't watching the same movie as I was. What I saw was a brilliant, haunting, shocking portrayal of the American Dream being ripped apart by violence and lies, leaving behind the ugly truth that can seeth beneath such "perfect" families. The belief that we can run from who we are and change without regard for our past is brutally ripped apart. What we are left with is a family who has to pick up the pieces and try to deal with the horrible truth revealed to them. Expand
  16. Sam
    Apr 7, 2006
    9
    I thought this movie was excellently acted, directed and shot. Sure, if you just want mindless violence or cheap gags then steer clear. But if you're prepared to actually invest yourself in and engage with a film, pay attention off your own back instead of expecting it to do all the work for you then you'll find some amazing themes and thought-provoking angles. There are violent I thought this movie was excellently acted, directed and shot. Sure, if you just want mindless violence or cheap gags then steer clear. But if you're prepared to actually invest yourself in and engage with a film, pay attention off your own back instead of expecting it to do all the work for you then you'll find some amazing themes and thought-provoking angles. There are violent scenes in the film, but they serve a purpose rather than being arbitrary or superfluous, like in so many films. Expand
  17. JonD.
    May 6, 2006
    8
    This movie was really really good. It was very different which is probably why so many people give it such a low rating. its either a love it or hate it movie. Let me say one thing GRAPHIC NOVEL. The violence is over the top because of this have you seen other graphic novel movies? Sin City perhaps or maybe Road To Perdistion ... the violence is over the top for a reason. That is why some This movie was really really good. It was very different which is probably why so many people give it such a low rating. its either a love it or hate it movie. Let me say one thing GRAPHIC NOVEL. The violence is over the top because of this have you seen other graphic novel movies? Sin City perhaps or maybe Road To Perdistion ... the violence is over the top for a reason. That is why some people dont understand it, because they dont know that its a graphic novel. The story is a little different as well and it probly wouldnt happen in real life but its not supposed to. Overall a very well done movie and most people will either love it or hate it. Expand
  18. MichaelK.
    Jun 10, 2006
    10
    From what I understand, this movie was based on a graphic novel so it definitely has that comic book feel. Watch with an open mind and don't search for holes and you'll enjoy the film. I found myself caring about each character and at times I found the movie very tense. Be warned, both the sex and the violence are at 100%.
  19. PatT.
    Mar 21, 2007
    10
    I am generally appalled by the gratuitous violence of so many films these days, yet still I found myself drawn to the flawed protagonist. In spite of its brute force, this is a nuanced movie, with scenes of extreme violence juxtaposed with domestic scenes of calm beauty. Even the brass score adds energy and tension, and the ending was a nice touch as well, with its lack of resolution but I am generally appalled by the gratuitous violence of so many films these days, yet still I found myself drawn to the flawed protagonist. In spite of its brute force, this is a nuanced movie, with scenes of extreme violence juxtaposed with domestic scenes of calm beauty. Even the brass score adds energy and tension, and the ending was a nice touch as well, with its lack of resolution but hint of hope. Ultimately, this film appeals to that very basic human satisfaction of seeing the bullies, mobsters, and thrill killers of the world get their due at the hands of the underdog. Expand
  20. jaymorris
    Apr 16, 2008
    10
    The best film of the year, hands down. David Cronenberg's enthralling meditation on violence, and the duality of man's nature and his capacity to change, recalls Anthony Mann's Bend of the River. Mr. Cronenberg has found his James Stewart in Viggo Mortensen; his performance is absolutely mesmerizing. One hopes that this masterpiece launches more teamings of this supremelyThe best film of the year, hands down. David Cronenberg's enthralling meditation on violence, and the duality of man's nature and his capacity to change, recalls Anthony Mann's Bend of the River. Mr. Cronenberg has found his James Stewart in Viggo Mortensen; his performance is absolutely mesmerizing. One hopes that this masterpiece launches more teamings of this supremely accomplished director and his new leading man. Expand
  21. SeamusS
    Nov 15, 2005
    10
    Brilliant, One of cronenburgs best.
  22. BitBurn
    Oct 11, 2005
    9
    That one really caught me by surprise. Very intense, raw. Awesome screenplay. Perhaps not for everyone but I loved it.
  23. megw.
    Oct 10, 2005
    8
    Liked it rather a lot, almost strangely so. Saw it last night and still musing on it. Very violent bloodshed interspersed with serious erotic moments, gorey but not mindlessly so. A couple of laughs, but definitely not a comedy-no idea where people got that impression- and not one to take the kids to, least not smallish kids, older teens maybe, if you're comfortable with them viewing Liked it rather a lot, almost strangely so. Saw it last night and still musing on it. Very violent bloodshed interspersed with serious erotic moments, gorey but not mindlessly so. A couple of laughs, but definitely not a comedy-no idea where people got that impression- and not one to take the kids to, least not smallish kids, older teens maybe, if you're comfortable with them viewing blood and sex. Not terribly predictable, enough twists and turns, done without beating one over the head with some moral perspective, which is refreshing. Worthwhile, different, not for the squeamish or easily offended. Expand
  24. SuzieH.
    Nov 1, 2005
    9
    Loved it! Very graphic violence & sex.
  25. JayM.
    Oct 1, 2005
    9
    Cronenberg's most complete and successful film to date, fabulous performances by the whole cast, wow wauw! So not a Hollywood production, this is a @#$! real movie!
  26. leah
    Nov 20, 2005
    10
    One of the best movies of the year, so darkly funny that i found myself to be the only one in the theater laughing! Cronenburg has not dropped the ball yet in his lengthy career.
  27. Jonzi
    Oct 12, 2005
    8
    To appreciate this movie you must view it as part of the revisionist western genre like Peckipah or the "urban revenge" movies like Dirty Harry. Lacking in humanity, cold and certainly doing nothing for Cronenbergs feminism credentials - I loved it!
  28. MarkB.
    Oct 15, 2005
    7
    Despite the cold, clinical feel that David Cronenberg often brings to his horror and other films (and a similar reputation that he seems to enjoy cultivating in print), his best work includes a large dose of humanity to drive home his rather morose scientific themes and obsessions in ways that his more distanced work (Dead Ringers, eXistenZ, Spider) can't always do no matter how Despite the cold, clinical feel that David Cronenberg often brings to his horror and other films (and a similar reputation that he seems to enjoy cultivating in print), his best work includes a large dose of humanity to drive home his rather morose scientific themes and obsessions in ways that his more distanced work (Dead Ringers, eXistenZ, Spider) can't always do no matter how creepily fascinating or technically accomplished it may be. His adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone has as much loss, poignancy and heartbreak as any movie made in the last 25 years; his all-time masterpiece The Fly wouldn't be nearly so resonant if it weren't as much a tragic romance as a gross-out horror classic. Not surprisingly, these two were his biggest box-office hits ever, and A History of Violence, which effectively jettisons the supernatural or science fiction elements while still dealing with many of Cronenberg's pet concerns, looks to join them. Small town family man and business owner Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) gets into more than he expected when he violently but understandably derails an attempt to rob his diner; nationwide notoriety, reporters and gangsters appear to threaten his perfect family life and maybe expose some less-than-savory truths that he'd vastly prefer remain submerged. (It's tough to discuss a film like this without tiptoeing into spoiler territory; on the other hand, if you've seen the trailer, you can probably guess the difference between a potential full-length movie and a 15-minute short subject.) Much of Cronenberg's previous work has dealt with, as a major theme or a subplot, parasitic invasive physical or mental forces that take over, dominate and often destroy their hosts; in Tom's case, said unwelcome elements could have been there all along, which is why I was less moved by his situation than that of his gentle, sensitive high-school son Jack (affectingly played by Ashton Holmes), who may or may not have inherited certain violent tendencies that he neither chose nor wants to have. Despite gripping (and often funny) supporting performances from Ed Harris, William Hurt, Maria Bello as Tom's wife (three cheers and an 'amen' for actresses who don't place any limitations on the sexual demands of the scripts they want to do!) and especially Mortensen himself, in a fascinating, career-redefining, coiled-spring performance that lends real ambiguity and danger to even the movie's early scenes, this effort is perhaps too linear and straightforward to fully engage Cronenberg's most devoted followers or to inspire repeat viewings as readily as his best mainstream work. But there's still plenty to absorb, appreciate and admire, although I have a feeling that the biggest discussion and debate--both among the film's surviving principal characters AND its audience--will inevitably occur after the closing credits have rolled. And it's impossible for me NOT to respect a film that questions the basic ethos of the action-film resumes of Charles Bronson, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and pre-1980 Clint Eastwood by asking whether the so-called heroes of these films prevail because they have the forces of good and right on their side--or maybe because they're just a little bit better and more skillful at marshalling the forces of bad and wrong? Expand
  29. mitchellm
    Oct 18, 2005
    10
    Wow, these last low reveiws show us how people don't know what a goood movie is, they'd rather see something like "the fog" or some nonesense like that. and say its " the best movie ever!", thes people need to be shown what a real masterpeice looks like, and this is one of them.
  30. ChadS.
    Oct 20, 2005
    9
    I'll be the cheerleader, and next time, you be the man with a violent past. That scene on the stairwell is interesting because we've already seen the couple engage in role-playing when they have sex. Edie (Maria Bello) is like the Lorraine Bracco character in "Good Fellas" who admits to being turned-on when Henry (Ray Liotta) tells her to hide the gun. There's a darkness in I'll be the cheerleader, and next time, you be the man with a violent past. That scene on the stairwell is interesting because we've already seen the couple engage in role-playing when they have sex. Edie (Maria Bello) is like the Lorraine Bracco character in "Good Fellas" who admits to being turned-on when Henry (Ray Liotta) tells her to hide the gun. There's a darkness in Edie, too. If there's a flaw to "A History of Violence", it's the violence inflicted by Tom (Viggo Mortensen) on his victims because the rest of the film belies any graphic novel connection. Like fellow indie-director Richard Linklater, David Cronenberg mainstreams himself with dignity and class. Expand
  31. TrevorCotton
    Oct 22, 2005
    10
    A History Of Violence works on so many levels with such convincing acting and a riveting story. Believe the hype this is one of the years best films!
  32. TimD.
    Oct 31, 2005
    9
    I'm not generally a fan of Cronenberg's stuff. And I'm not generally a fan of film critics. I'm with them on this one, though -- I thought it was excellent,disquieting, staying with me afterward in a way many movies do not. And I find the number and vehemence of the negative viewer reviews here to be genuinely interesting. Ah, well. To each their own.
  33. TerryD.
    Oct 3, 2005
    10
    Wow. What a thought-provoking, disturbing movie. You'll be thinking about this one long after you leave the theater, which is a good thing. Wow again.
  34. russw.
    Oct 3, 2005
    8
    Gripping at times, very entertaining.
  35. ChaninderB.
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Awsome...captivating, and so well done. Cronenberg is the man.
  36. Gnarles
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Igonore the idiots on here - this is the real deal, folks.
  37. MondoQuantS.
    Oct 9, 2005
    10
    A Masterpiece, but not for everybody. Those familiar with violence and the psychology will see much beneath the surface. Many before/after themes run through this film, leaving you to think days afterwards. The before/after sexual scenes between Tom and his wife are telling. The final scene of the family at the dinner table, trapped in the realization they are changed, never to be the A Masterpiece, but not for everybody. Those familiar with violence and the psychology will see much beneath the surface. Many before/after themes run through this film, leaving you to think days afterwards. The before/after sexual scenes between Tom and his wife are telling. The final scene of the family at the dinner table, trapped in the realization they are changed, never to be the same - no other good option - is haunting. Expand
  38. BoydP
    Oct 9, 2005
    9
    A stunning and unsettling story of violence and how it affects and upsets the status quo. This is basically a character piece, which may be surprising to those expecting an action film. The violence is quick and brutal, the sex is raw and revealing, and the comedy is very dark. If you think the violence is the only interesting aspect of the film, perhaps that says more about you than it A stunning and unsettling story of violence and how it affects and upsets the status quo. This is basically a character piece, which may be surprising to those expecting an action film. The violence is quick and brutal, the sex is raw and revealing, and the comedy is very dark. If you think the violence is the only interesting aspect of the film, perhaps that says more about you than it does about the movie. Which, I think, is exactly the point the movie is making. Expand
  39. Aaron
    Sep 23, 2005
    10
    "A History Of Violence" is something of a masterpiece and just about the best film Cronenberg has ever made. To reveal anything more would do the film a disservice. So far, it's the best picture of 2005 and something really spectacular will have to come out to displace it as such for me.
  40. NormG.
    Sep 24, 2005
    9
    The backdrop of History of Violence is a small quiet Indiana town and family. So when the Violence comes the contrast is sharp and startling. You just don't know what is lurking below the surface. Though the story is predictable, the direction and performances keeps it from degenerating into tired gratuitous action-movie clichés. The scene that ends the film at first left me The backdrop of History of Violence is a small quiet Indiana town and family. So when the Violence comes the contrast is sharp and startling. You just don't know what is lurking below the surface. Though the story is predictable, the direction and performances keeps it from degenerating into tired gratuitous action-movie clichés. The scene that ends the film at first left me puzzled then it chilled and soon became almost redemptive. You won't know what hit you. Expand
  41. ChristinaV.
    Sep 27, 2005
    10
    There is not one wasted moment in this superb film.
  42. JudyT.
    Sep 30, 2005
    7
    Undecided whether or not I really liked this movie, but the acting elevated the predictable story. It's an incomplete movie with an unsatisfying ending.
  43. ShirleyC.
    Jan 26, 2006
    9
    Modern classic since a clockwork orange issued. Another movie needs to think about human is evil.
  44. MichaelS.
    Jan 3, 2006
    8
    A gripping comment on the subversive power of violence. A film that hangs the negative results out to dry along with the emotional sympathy generated by Tom/Joey. This is a must see for our adult generation.
  45. DanielC.
    Jan 4, 2006
    10
    The best movie I watched this year.
  46. Jake
    Feb 2, 2006
    10
    Probably my favorite movie of the year. Although it was pretty obvious from the trailers that "Tom Stahl" was more than just a nice guy. Probably the best use of VERY graphic violence and gore (since Saw at least......only kidding). But seriously, the killing scenes were shocking and compelling, especially the final showdown, which I won't ruin for those of you who haven't seen Probably my favorite movie of the year. Although it was pretty obvious from the trailers that "Tom Stahl" was more than just a nice guy. Probably the best use of VERY graphic violence and gore (since Saw at least......only kidding). But seriously, the killing scenes were shocking and compelling, especially the final showdown, which I won't ruin for those of you who haven't seen it. Viggo did a great job at playing two different characters.....why was he an unknown before LOTR? All in all, a great film with a resonating message. Expand
  47. Rick
    Mar 15, 2006
    10
    It's good, here's a good idea to find good movies, get the ones that are 2 thumbs up. You'll never watch a bad movie again if you do that.
  48. AdanC.
    Mar 17, 2006
    10
    Anyone who gives this movie a rating below 7, didn't get it. Trust me, I've read all the reviews. I think these people where expecting some simple movie like The Rundown or something, when in fact they got something much richer. Too bad they can't see it.
  49. JordanM.
    Mar 21, 2006
    7
    Man, narrowmindedness is a bad thing. But as always, some people hate things and some people love things. This movie, i felt was a much needed break from the norm of films today with a realistic feel and a great plot that made you interested in all the character's thoughts. Although the shootout scenes are short, they are VERY satisfying. Also, the ending is a bit unsatisfying, some Man, narrowmindedness is a bad thing. But as always, some people hate things and some people love things. This movie, i felt was a much needed break from the norm of films today with a realistic feel and a great plot that made you interested in all the character's thoughts. Although the shootout scenes are short, they are VERY satisfying. Also, the ending is a bit unsatisfying, some apologies were in order from him. Expand
  50. LanceT.
    Mar 25, 2006
    9
    The subtle tones given off by this movie are brilliant. DC has held back his usual difficult to understand plot lines and given us a character driven Marvel. Although you know Tom has been a naughty boy, you want to see him do it again and again.
  51. WalkenM.
    Mar 27, 2006
    9
    In A History of Violence, Cronenberg sets out to criticize the very laziness responsible for the popular backlash against this incisive and compassionate film. Only those with no understanding of subtext could determine the film empty beyond its pointed exaggerations of American culture. Cronenberg problematizes the notion of redemption through brutality, ultimately questioning the In A History of Violence, Cronenberg sets out to criticize the very laziness responsible for the popular backlash against this incisive and compassionate film. Only those with no understanding of subtext could determine the film empty beyond its pointed exaggerations of American culture. Cronenberg problematizes the notion of redemption through brutality, ultimately questioning the stability of a society so willing to forgive, and even embrace, the notion of ends-justifying-means violence. Far beyond a purposeless condemnation, Cronenberg composes a cultural critique that does not insult our intelligence, exposing instead an establishing violence that indicts all civilized societies. A History of Violence Expand
  52. MarcB.
    Mar 20, 2006
    9
    A great B movie that raises questions many A movies dont know how to raise. Stellar performances all around, especially from the two leads. A Norman Rockwell vision of America on the surface cant hide the kill em all, Faustian demons lurking beneath the surface. Cronenberg does an excellent job of making us mentally involved in the violence and with skillful editing and cinematography A great B movie that raises questions many A movies dont know how to raise. Stellar performances all around, especially from the two leads. A Norman Rockwell vision of America on the surface cant hide the kill em all, Faustian demons lurking beneath the surface. Cronenberg does an excellent job of making us mentally involved in the violence and with skillful editing and cinematography shows the act of violence with quick and brutal speed. Can a killer change? Old habits die hard. Expand
  53. BarryW.
    Mar 31, 2006
    8
    Great Story. Fight scenes are nice and violent and a great performance from vigo.
  54. AaronH.
    Apr 10, 2006
    10
    I can not understand how anyone could watch this movie and give it a rating below a 7. I personally think it deserves a 10. One of the best movies Ive seen because it has a mainstream entertainment quality while also creating an undercurrent of dark and disturbing feeling about the consequences of violence and how a violent past is difficult to escape. I love this movie because it I can not understand how anyone could watch this movie and give it a rating below a 7. I personally think it deserves a 10. One of the best movies Ive seen because it has a mainstream entertainment quality while also creating an undercurrent of dark and disturbing feeling about the consequences of violence and how a violent past is difficult to escape. I love this movie because it entertained me while tapping my emotions and making me think about family, love, and the secrets we all hide. Expand
  55. RuthR.
    Jul 2, 2006
    10
    I loved the subtlety of the performances throughout this beautifully made movie, I loved the silences free from music which allowed the viewers to think and absorb, and I loved the main character who is essentially so much like the man I am married to, and I love that I picked up in that final scene the tiny innuendo that no one else has noticed nor agrees, upon second viewing, is there. I loved the subtlety of the performances throughout this beautifully made movie, I loved the silences free from music which allowed the viewers to think and absorb, and I loved the main character who is essentially so much like the man I am married to, and I love that I picked up in that final scene the tiny innuendo that no one else has noticed nor agrees, upon second viewing, is there. This bothers me not in the least. I know it was there. I saw it, I believe it, and I felt it every time I saw it - four times now. I could never be convinced otherwise, and the fact of it and my sure and certain knowledge of it, makes me feel just a tiny bit superior. There are few things in life that I ever feel superior about - I'm going to keep this one close to my heart and try never to forget it. Expand
  56. NickA.
    Mar 27, 2007
    9
    Reading some of the reviews I'm beginning to wonder whether there are two versions of this film! This was a superb insight into marriage, betrayal, revenge and the darker side of the human spirit. It asks some interesting questions mainly just how much will we forgive for love, can we ever truly leave our past behind, can we be two people at the same time, and for parents practice Reading some of the reviews I'm beginning to wonder whether there are two versions of this film! This was a superb insight into marriage, betrayal, revenge and the darker side of the human spirit. It asks some interesting questions mainly just how much will we forgive for love, can we ever truly leave our past behind, can we be two people at the same time, and for parents practice what you preach! The inter-play between Mortensen and his wife is superb,perhaps the best scene is the understated last reel. So subtle but so brilliant. A great film and a major return to form by David Cronenberg. Expand
  57. RaymondG
    Sep 6, 2007
    10
    Excellent, gripping film! Very complex and moving. Loved the performances of all the main characters, especially Viggo Mortensen's. His character's dilemma is related to that of Matt Damon's in "The Bourne Identity." Very taut and economical. I will remember it for a long time. Maria Bello and William Hurt also do wonderful jobs.
  58. NK.
    Apr 19, 2008
    7
    Absorbing and well made. I agree with critic, it do agree with some critic it does not add any great understanding. I guess my expectations were incorrect.
  59. SamS.
    Nov 11, 2005
    10
    Woo hoo.
  60. LeeG.
    Oct 10, 2005
    8
    Well, this film was not great the first time you watch it, in fact it is awful, that is, if you go in watching it not having know anything about it in the first place! However, apon watching it again, and reading directors and producers notes, i must say this film is one to watch. It can be very easily misunderstood, but it is, and will be for a long time, a masterclass at showing the Well, this film was not great the first time you watch it, in fact it is awful, that is, if you go in watching it not having know anything about it in the first place! However, apon watching it again, and reading directors and producers notes, i must say this film is one to watch. It can be very easily misunderstood, but it is, and will be for a long time, a masterclass at showing the hidden secrets in everybody - and not just the violent past of this ex-mobster. It wasn't perfect by a long way, for example the girl they used as viggo mortensen's daughter was terrible, and the son had his moments of good acting - but they were few and fair! It was horrifically violent, but then that was kind of the point of the film too! See it, but maybe see it twice before commenting! Expand
  61. janiej
    Nov 10, 2005
    10
    Viggo Mortensen captures this complicated character very effectively. This movie should receive a 10 for the sex scene alone. That scene is a 5 minute mini-movie conveying the complex feelings of both characters without a spoken word. Excellant film.
  62. brianm
    Oct 10, 2005
    10
    Masterpiece. Run, do not walk, to this picture. The best film since Lord of the Rings, and not because they share similar scores.
  63. timothyk.
    Oct 11, 2005
    9
    If you don't love this movie then you should have your head checked. Rawness and simplicity are the point. Dirty Harry meets Unbreakable.
  64. JobA>
    Oct 11, 2005
    9
    Very good and unexpected.The acting and story was terrific!
  65. thewiseking
    Oct 11, 2005
    9
    A brilliant Cronenberg art film which plays like a populist melodrama. This film works on every level. The casting is absolutely first rate, and the screenplay is brilliant. The film flies by in around 90 minutes, unlike most of the tedious, overwrought 2 hours plus crap we feel like walking out of nowadays. Several hours after seeing it, you start to like it even more, It is profound and A brilliant Cronenberg art film which plays like a populist melodrama. This film works on every level. The casting is absolutely first rate, and the screenplay is brilliant. The film flies by in around 90 minutes, unlike most of the tedious, overwrought 2 hours plus crap we feel like walking out of nowadays. Several hours after seeing it, you start to like it even more, It is profound and thought provoking as well as entertaining. Expand
  66. zackseymour
    Nov 21, 2005
    10
    It's pure Cronenberg. Take it or leave it.
  67. BobX
    Oct 12, 2005
    10
    A thinking man's movie that doesn't end when the credit's roll. Put simply, if you are the kind of person who can sit through an Adam Sandler film, or worse yet, enjoy it, then this film is clearly not for you. The film is a living, breathing critique of itself and the people who gave this film low reviews. It's about the victory of the primal and the stupid over the A thinking man's movie that doesn't end when the credit's roll. Put simply, if you are the kind of person who can sit through an Adam Sandler film, or worse yet, enjoy it, then this film is clearly not for you. The film is a living, breathing critique of itself and the people who gave this film low reviews. It's about the victory of the primal and the stupid over the intelligent and gentle. And while the plot itself may be fairly straightforward, the subtext for what is occuring on screen has delighted me and my friends for days now in discussion. To put it on familiar terms, the movie is a very good approximation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness,a much better representation than any of the films that lay claim to that name. The camera-work itself is very amazing, it moves slowly and majestically like the story does at the beginning. Giving a very gentle and relaxing atmosphere and the musical score follows suit. The pacing perfectly depicts the change in the life of Stall (Viggo) and his family as their instincts overwhelm their good nature. The camerawork becomes insular and even violent at times, justly reflecting the changes of the family. Mortesen and Harris both give great perfomances acting but it's really Bello and Hurt who you remember afterwards. Hurt steals the show for his brief performances and most of the discussion of plot wll end up centering around Bello. In the end it is very simlilar to the third act of adaptation where the movie itself becomes what it criticizes and ultimately I think the subtext is much to complex and subtle for the average movie goer these days. Don't worry kids, there will be another Adam Sandler flick out as soon. Expand
  68. AnonymousMC
    Oct 13, 2005
    9
    Superlative directing, editing and acting. Although probably intended to appeal to a mainstream audience, this film nonetheless is vintage Cronenberg, with all the psychological tension and visceral thrills wrapping up a philosophical theme, in this case determinism vs. free will. Not a single frame is wasted in this film: when the final credits roll, you might guess the running time wasSuperlative directing, editing and acting. Although probably intended to appeal to a mainstream audience, this film nonetheless is vintage Cronenberg, with all the psychological tension and visceral thrills wrapping up a philosophical theme, in this case determinism vs. free will. Not a single frame is wasted in this film: when the final credits roll, you might guess the running time was fifteen minutes. From a great director, another fine effort which will reward attentive and intelligent viewers. Expand
  69. DS
    Oct 14, 2005
    10
    A fantastic piece of work, with both excellent acting and a gripping story that draws the viewer in. Highly recommended.
  70. PatridiaG.
    Oct 17, 2005
    8
    I'm usually one who canno watch a violent movie; however, even tho 13 paople meeet grisley deaths, the acting in this movie kept me glued to my seat. The tension was palpable and I loved the non-hollywood ending. You are allowed to make up ;y;our own or realize that life goes on and doesn't end with the credits of a film.
  71. RaphaelC.
    Oct 17, 2005
    10
    Viggo Mortensen delivers one of the best performances I've ever seen, in what might be the best movie of the year.
  72. JimmyE.
    Dec 1, 2005
    10
    It's so awesome.
  73. NickH
    Oct 2, 2005
    9
    Did you like "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"? Planning on seeing "Into the Blue" this week? Have you seen, and loved, "Just Like Heaven" and "cry_wolf"? Then don't see this movie. If you like your movies generic, formulaic, and uninspired stay at home and rent "Robots". This is, hands down, one of the best movies of the year. Cronenberg strikes again with another whacked-out and amazing Did you like "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"? Planning on seeing "Into the Blue" this week? Have you seen, and loved, "Just Like Heaven" and "cry_wolf"? Then don't see this movie. If you like your movies generic, formulaic, and uninspired stay at home and rent "Robots". This is, hands down, one of the best movies of the year. Cronenberg strikes again with another whacked-out and amazing movie. Mortensen proves he's more than Aragorn in his great preformance. Hurt, Harris, and Bello are great in their supporting roles. Realize that this movie is NOT for everyone, before you go. Just because it's called "A History of Violence" doesn't mean it's an action movie, get it through your head before you go. It's not conventional, it's way out there... but, if you didn't know that when you heard Cronenberg in the trailers - stay out of the theatres. Expand
  74. A.S.Christensen
    Dec 27, 2005
    10
    The film of the year. Great acting. It get better every time,you see it.
  75. MarcusG
    Oct 22, 2005
    9
    As perfectly paced as the best Hitchcock thriller. Then, to that "A grade", add such a unique agenda, worthy and absorbing. Cronenberg makes A History of Violence an undeniably fantastic film. It's an A+.
  76. SHFB
    Dec 5, 2005
    10
    I think the main reason so many people gave this a low-rating is that the title led them to expect your typical cinematic bloodbath. You're not going to get that with "History," although it is, in fact, quite violent. This is a movie that requires you to think and not merely to be entertained. It throws a number of curveballs - causing you to question your assumptions and I think the main reason so many people gave this a low-rating is that the title led them to expect your typical cinematic bloodbath. You're not going to get that with "History," although it is, in fact, quite violent. This is a movie that requires you to think and not merely to be entertained. It throws a number of curveballs - causing you to question your assumptions and expectations. I was blown away by the writing, acting and directing. Honestly. I can't think of one criticism. Bottom Line: This movie is not for everyone. If you aren't looking to be challenged by a movie, give this one a miss. Because if you can't see the deep social/cinematic critique and instead take it all on the most literal level, you're going to be very very disappointed, as apparently were many of these viewers. It's a shame, really. Hollywood needs more movies like this, not fewer, and those looking for, as one viewer put it, "cool violence," have far too much say in what movies do and don't get made. Expand
  77. KeatonK.
    Oct 25, 2005
    9
    Startlingly affective. Cronenbergs expressionistic stylings devastate and arrest.
  78. Whaddyaknow
    Oct 25, 2005
    10
    I've raely seen such a divisive film. Look at these reviews! Almost split directly between 9/10s and 1/2s. Some would say that's the sign of a truly great movie. Others would say half of the population are dumb. Either half. I'd say that this is a superb movie with plenty going on and some truly wonderful moments. People complaining about the sugar-sweet town and the I've raely seen such a divisive film. Look at these reviews! Almost split directly between 9/10s and 1/2s. Some would say that's the sign of a truly great movie. Others would say half of the population are dumb. Either half. I'd say that this is a superb movie with plenty going on and some truly wonderful moments. People complaining about the sugar-sweet town and the cartoon gangsters are sort of missing the point. It's ok to work with cleverly set-up stereotypes if they work in the context of your film. And boy do they work. See it for yourelf - you'll either see one of the best of the year, or you'll be thoroughly entertained telling people why it's so terrible when you come out. You can't lose! Collapse
  79. DanM.
    Oct 26, 2005
    10
    Maybe its cause i read the comic first but this is grade A stuff. cronibergs best.
  80. Geeder
    Oct 27, 2005
    10
    Very disturbing movie but extremely well done. Violent (duh) and very well acted. The facial acting of Ms Bello gave the viewer a lot to think about. The teenage son was believable (as I have one). The younger sister was not as well acted but she wasn't in the film that often. I think about the film often and that to me is the mark of a good film. Not for the queasy or sexually embarassed.
  81. JH
    Oct 28, 2005
    9
    A fantastic movie. The ending, and how it loops back onto a previous discussion early on in the movie, is excellent. Cronenberg takes clear cliches and weaves them together into a sly, humorous movie that also pulls no punches in the violence. Wonderful movie with wit and style - a must see for people who appreciate something different, unique and without a number after the title.
  82. TorvC.
    Oct 3, 2005
    10
    One of the best films this year. Cronenberg is at the top of his form eliciting wonderfully nuanced performances out of his cast with a singularly focused sense of direction. This is my favorite kind of film -- one that resonates in your brain long after you've left the theater. SEE THIS MOVIE!
  83. Jeff
    Oct 5, 2005
    9
    This movie grabbed your attention from the first minute and never let go. I am glad I read nothing about it before seeing it, as that made every scene in the movie more memorable.
  84. HenryM.
    Oct 7, 2005
    7
    This is movie is not for children. As far as adults are concerned, it has plenty of gore and several sex scenes that made everyone in the theater feel shy about. This movie is an entertaining movie but during the second act of the movie several scenes take place that lead the audience to believe the movie is coming to an end. Because of this the final act seemed anti-climatic. When we This is movie is not for children. As far as adults are concerned, it has plenty of gore and several sex scenes that made everyone in the theater feel shy about. This movie is an entertaining movie but during the second act of the movie several scenes take place that lead the audience to believe the movie is coming to an end. Because of this the final act seemed anti-climatic. When we left we were not sure if we liked the movie or not. We felt unsatisfied if you will. Nevertheless, it was entertaining. Expand
  85. DaveP
    Oct 7, 2005
    10
    If you think Boondock Saints is a great movie, you will dislike this. Because you have terrible taste. Otherwise, step right up to Cronenberg's celebration of the use of violence in American culture in all of its subversively non-subversive glory. Stands with Nobody Knows and Last Days as one of the most nuanced, poetic films of the year.
  86. MarcK.
    Oct 8, 2005
    7
    Very interesting and unique, and probably one of the Year's Best 10, although this has been one of the most horrendous years for hoping to watch good movies. Ed Harris is great as always, but am clueless as to why people are raving about William Hurt. His scenes seemed like an add-on...I would have ended the film before his call. Also, if you're going to put a William Hurt in at Very interesting and unique, and probably one of the Year's Best 10, although this has been one of the most horrendous years for hoping to watch good movies. Ed Harris is great as always, but am clueless as to why people are raving about William Hurt. His scenes seemed like an add-on...I would have ended the film before his call. Also, if you're going to put a William Hurt in at the end, don't run the cast stars until the end of the picture. You know William Hurt is going to be in the picture, so you know the film can't be ending until he appears. Expand
  87. nancyL
    Oct 8, 2005
    9
    I'm really shocked at so many of the negative reviews here. Yes, the ending lacks resolution, but that's entirely the point! I thought it was an extremely powerful ending and I couldn't stop thinking about the movie for days afterwards. There are so many layers to it that I know I'll have to see it again. The acting is wonderful in its subtlety. If you think acting I'm really shocked at so many of the negative reviews here. Yes, the ending lacks resolution, but that's entirely the point! I thought it was an extremely powerful ending and I couldn't stop thinking about the movie for days afterwards. There are so many layers to it that I know I'll have to see it again. The acting is wonderful in its subtlety. If you think acting means scenery-chewing, then you won't like this film. And the 2 sex scenes are not gratuitous in the slightest. In fact they are integral to the film and to understanding the 2 main characters. One of the scenes is raw and disturbing, yes, but again, it's supposed to be. There are so many emotions on display in that one scene and the actors did a fantastic job. If you just want stylized "movie" violence, "movie" sex complete with some love theme pop song playing and a Hollywood ending, then this film is not for you. The film uses noir, Western and action thriller elements with great success but it's essentially a drama about what happens to one small-town family when violence enters their lives. It's also about the choices we make and how they not only affect us but those around us. And it's about so many other things. Just go see it. Expand
  88. [Anonymous]
    Oct 8, 2005
    10
    The very best film that I have seen this year so far. Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, and the rest of the cast deserve Oscar nominations. Ditto to Thomas Newman for his beautiful score and Cronenberg for directing his best film ever. The cinematography and film editing were unparalleled. Great script.
  89. sM
    Oct 9, 2005
    8
    Very similar to the Coen bros.' "Blood Simple". Not as good.
  90. AdamSinger
    Oct 9, 2005
    10
    Brilliant.
  91. EricS.
    Sep 23, 2005
    10
    Saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival. Phenomenal! Some of Cronenberg's best work yet, which is saying quite a lot. Feels like equal parts classic western, gangster film, family drama, small town Frank Capra movie, coming of age story, and black comedy. Easily the best movie I've seen so far this year. It will be hard to surpass it.
  92. JohnB.
    Sep 29, 2005
    8
    Fine acting. Cronenberg both gets under the skin and forces viewers to think a bit more than most films. Unnecessarily graphic but worth the price of admission. Wonderful side characters and superb performance by Mortenson. Plot a bit thin.
  93. JoshC
    Nov 20, 2006
    8
    Wow! I am shocked at how many people hated this movie. I do think the film was slighty overrated by the critics, however it's still a very good film.
  94. KarryD.
    Jan 17, 2006
    7
    Nice concept, well acted (by the leads anyway), but pourly executed.
  95. DanieleO.
    Jan 22, 2006
    9
    One of the very best of the year, a brilliant reflection on violence, and a reflection about america too.
  96. HalB.
    Dec 31, 2006
    7
    Wow, I guess a lot of recent "users"/viewers of this film just didn't get it. It's a pretty good film, and actually quite subversive in that it will appeal to many as a revenge/action film, yet is obviously making an extremely valid comment about our culture's obsession with, and championing of, violence. Viggo M, Ed Harris and William H are outstanding. I agree that maybe Wow, I guess a lot of recent "users"/viewers of this film just didn't get it. It's a pretty good film, and actually quite subversive in that it will appeal to many as a revenge/action film, yet is obviously making an extremely valid comment about our culture's obsession with, and championing of, violence. Viggo M, Ed Harris and William H are outstanding. I agree that maybe it's been overly praised, but it's still quite a good film. As with most forms of art and entertainment, some people just don't get it. And as always: there's just no accounting for some peoples' tastes! Expand
  97. 2roads
    Jan 24, 2006
    8
    Excellent movie and not to be missed as it has an accurate statement to be made in the father son relationship. David Letterman was right, it grabs the audience and won't let you go...then resonates afterward.
  98. O.Cuculiza
    Jan 6, 2006
    10
    Brilliant. This movie ain't an action thriller. It is a complex family psycologichal drama where violence is fully justified because it refflects the minds of the people. You get to go so deep into the main character's thooughts that you can't get away from the movie until it ends. The screenplay is great (the story is told as a tale), the acting is terrific (specially from Brilliant. This movie ain't an action thriller. It is a complex family psycologichal drama where violence is fully justified because it refflects the minds of the people. You get to go so deep into the main character's thooughts that you can't get away from the movie until it ends. The screenplay is great (the story is told as a tale), the acting is terrific (specially from Bello, whose performance is one you won't forget, and of course William Hurt, wow.), the art direction is perfect and the direction itself is great. Go and see this movie when you can, you won't regret it (AT ALL). Expand
  99. KouroshA.
    Feb 15, 2006
    7
    It had an unusual story which made it somewhat unpredictable and interesting, but the action and acting was not all too gripping.
  100. agoodsourceofagoodsourceof
    Mar 11, 2006
    10
    This movie is brilliant, and not in the least in a trivial way. I tend to agree with Mr. Kauffmann of the New Republic, but on this one, he has dropped the ball. What Cronenberg develops in this film is not simply a tale of violence; about its self-destructive and redemptive potential (Wild Bunch) or the media's agrandisement of violence (Natural Born Killers). Far from it. InThis movie is brilliant, and not in the least in a trivial way. I tend to agree with Mr. Kauffmann of the New Republic, but on this one, he has dropped the ball. What Cronenberg develops in this film is not simply a tale of violence; about its self-destructive and redemptive potential (Wild Bunch) or the media's agrandisement of violence (Natural Born Killers). Far from it. In fact, these aren't even central to the narrative in 'History of Violence'. The media only plays a secondary role throughout the film, and Stall/Cusack is never destroyed or redeemed by the violence. Rather Stall is closer to showing, as Kurtz does in 'Apocalypse Now (Redux)', that the facile bourgeois attitude towards violence--which allows a practical role for violence in maintaining society, either through police force or military intervention--does not track the reality of violence. The lesson being that violence does pay, provided that you are the most violent of all, and monstrously so.
    What we do see, however, in 'History of Violence', unlike other films that might be sited in the genre, is an absolute embodiment of violence, virutally invincible (like Beowulf, Odysseus, or Jack Bauer) and capable of inflicting certain death on his enemies, no matter the odds (like Ryunosuke Tsukue in 'Sword of Doom'). The substance of this film is a narrative on the ontology (natrue) of violence--it consumes its users and widens to increasing spheres of influence. Like a medieval morality play, we see in 'History' our society caricatured to mind-numbing proportions, then violence enters in real-time and changes the entire landscape: influencing more people and escalating to frightening dimensions. We can learn a great deal from this film and we are better for it.
    Expand
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 90
    Cronenberg holds up a mirror, but he leaves it up to us to recoil at what we see.
  2. Clever and fast-paced thriller.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Lack of depth, complexity or strangeness make this a relatively routine entry for the director.