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Generally favorable reviews- based on 651 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. 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
  7. alicew.
    Oct 24, 2005
    9
    one of the best movies i have seen in a long time.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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?
  11. 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
  12. 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. Collapse
  13. 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
  14. 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%.
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. SeamusS
    Nov 15, 2005
    10
    Brilliant, One of cronenburgs best.
  18. 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.
  19. SuzieH.
    Nov 1, 2005
    9
    Loved it! Very graphic violence & sex.
  20. 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!
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. 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!
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. ChaninderB.
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Awsome...captivating, and so well done. Cronenberg is the man.
  28. Gnarles
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Igonore the idiots on here - this is the real deal, folks.
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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.
  32. 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
  33. ChristinaV.
    Sep 27, 2005
    10
    There is not one wasted moment in this superb film.
  34. ShirleyC.
    Jan 26, 2006
    9
    Modern classic since a clockwork orange issued. Another movie needs to think about human is evil.
  35. DanielC.
    Jan 4, 2006
    10
    The best movie I watched this year.
  36. 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
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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
  41. 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
  42. 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
  43. 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
  44. 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
  45. 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.
  46. SamS.
    Nov 11, 2005
    10
    Woo hoo.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. JobA>
    Oct 11, 2005
    9
    Very good and unexpected.The acting and story was terrific!
  51. 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
  52. zackseymour
    Nov 21, 2005
    10
    It's pure Cronenberg. Take it or leave it.
  53. 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
  54. 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
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. JimmyE.
    Dec 1, 2005
    10
    It's so awesome.
  58. 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
  59. A.S.Christensen
    Dec 27, 2005
    10
    The film of the year. Great acting. It get better every time,you see it.
  60. 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+.
  61. 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
  62. KeatonK.
    Oct 25, 2005
    9
    Startlingly affective. Cronenbergs expressionistic stylings devastate and arrest.
  63. 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! Expand
  64. DanM.
    Oct 26, 2005
    10
    Maybe its cause i read the comic first but this is grade A stuff. cronibergs best.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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!
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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
  71. [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.
  72. AdamSinger
    Oct 9, 2005
    10
    Brilliant.
  73. 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.
  74. DanieleO.
    Jan 22, 2006
    9
    One of the very best of the year, a brilliant reflection on violence, and a reflection about america too.
  75. 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
  76. 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
  77. DaveF.
    Mar 19, 2006
    9
    There was nothing predictable about this, clear up to the end we still don't know for sure where's Joey. Seeing the ultra violence might have led some reviewers to make a knee jerk reaction about the movie, not giving full credit to the complexity of this story.
  78. EvanS.
    Mar 20, 2006
    9
    Richly layered character piece wrapped around brief bursts of action and violence. Sets up the viewer to root for the violence and then when it is all over graphically shows the mangled results to show audience just what it was rooting for. One of the best films of the year but don't go in expecting a Hollywood action movie.
  79. Al
    Apr 23, 2006
    9
    A disturbing and emotionally arousing film. Not for the faint at heart. Ed Harris and William Hurt are delightfully perverse in a strangely honest way. Even though Mortensen's multiple-personality like transformations are not entirely convincing from a real world perspecitve, he does a very fine acting job.
  80. EvanS
    Apr 26, 2006
    9
    "Ther are so many plot holes in this movie." I have seen this on all of these user reviews and i would like to say that there are NO plot holes. The movie is leaving us with questions we cant figure out. That's what makes it so good. It's a --psychological--- movie. Duh! And now i dont understand why everyone is talking about the sex scenes, and how that it is uncomfortable."Ther are so many plot holes in this movie." I have seen this on all of these user reviews and i would like to say that there are NO plot holes. The movie is leaving us with questions we cant figure out. That's what makes it so good. It's a --psychological--- movie. Duh! And now i dont understand why everyone is talking about the sex scenes, and how that it is uncomfortable. It has meaning to it. Both times they do it, it has meaning. Everybody is so simple minded and apathetic at really how this movie is executed. Damn good movie. Expand
  81. JonC.
    Apr 27, 2006
    10
    I have never seen a Cronenburg film before. So I don't give this movie a 10 because of him. I would suggest that any plot holes you think you see are not signficant if they are plot holes, but they are necessary to examine the characters. [***SPOILERS***] When Maria Bello is naked, notice the awkwardness between the two previously very close people. When the son (Jack, I think) beats I have never seen a Cronenburg film before. So I don't give this movie a 10 because of him. I would suggest that any plot holes you think you see are not signficant if they are plot holes, but they are necessary to examine the characters. [***SPOILERS***] When Maria Bello is naked, notice the awkwardness between the two previously very close people. When the son (Jack, I think) beats up the bullies, it asks the question: why is it right for his father to kill in self defence, but wrong for the son? How can the father ever again justify non-vioence? The movie deals with the question: when is violence justifyable? And it makes the viewer answer it. Apply it to Iraq, gang violence, spousal abuse, any issue, and you see that violence is a central part in American culture (and to be fair, Western culture generally.) Expand
  82. AdamSinger
    Apr 3, 2006
    10
    Brilliant.
  83. TonyM.
    Apr 6, 2006
    10
    Life is too short to have to explain this movie to people. If, however, you can appreciate that a movie can seemingly be about one thing (say, a random encounter with killers bringing a secret past to light) while really being about something much deeper (like whether or not violence can be expunged from the human soul or is passed on like a gentic flaw) then watch this movie. What Life is too short to have to explain this movie to people. If, however, you can appreciate that a movie can seemingly be about one thing (say, a random encounter with killers bringing a secret past to light) while really being about something much deeper (like whether or not violence can be expunged from the human soul or is passed on like a gentic flaw) then watch this movie. What you'll find is the best moive of 2006. Expand
  84. JohnBbarton
    May 18, 2006
    9
    I see a lot of films and don't really like that many. This was, in my opinion, the best film of 2005. My business partners both have good taste in film, and both loved the film also. After seeing so many extremely negative viewer ratings on Metacritic, (although there are also many very positive) I decided to put it to the test by having my son in law watch the film. He has theI see a lot of films and don't really like that many. This was, in my opinion, the best film of 2005. My business partners both have good taste in film, and both loved the film also. After seeing so many extremely negative viewer ratings on Metacritic, (although there are also many very positive) I decided to put it to the test by having my son in law watch the film. He has the absolutel worst taste in movie history. He loves everything really bad ( he saw40 First Dates 15 times!) and hates everything really good. ( walked out on Junebug and hated Matchpoint) I was very relieved to get his rating-he hated it! My film rating confidence is now fully restored. I'd like to hear what the amatuer reviewers who hated this film thought was a good film. War of the Worlds is probably on their top film list for 2005, and I'm sure they just love those fascinating and complex Steven Segal movies! Expand
  85. BernardoS.
    Jun 2, 2006
    10
    It´s just like Once Upon a time in the West but with a more realistic plot and great performances from all the cast (specially by Mr. Hurt). IMO this will be the movie of the decade.
  86. JenniferW
    Jan 22, 2008
    10
    As I get older, violence becomes less and less appealing to me. Unless it has depth and purpose. Seems almost creepy to say I loved this film, but I did, because of the complex yet simply presented undercurrents. Viggo is an amazing character. He does sincere, restrained and non-melodramatic angst unbelievably well. Bello is also great. And many of the script's lines--and especially As I get older, violence becomes less and less appealing to me. Unless it has depth and purpose. Seems almost creepy to say I loved this film, but I did, because of the complex yet simply presented undercurrents. Viggo is an amazing character. He does sincere, restrained and non-melodramatic angst unbelievably well. Bello is also great. And many of the script's lines--and especially the totally silent last scene--are still going through my head. This was a really brilliant film. Expand
  87. RodericR.
    Jul 9, 2009
    9
    A very solid movie. Worth watching, well made, and despite a few minor flaws, holds your attention and makes you think. What I will *NEVER* understand is the people who give movies, especially ones like this that got multiple perfect ratings and was objectively *at the very least* a decent movie, a 0. There is no way this movie gets less than a 5 if you are being objective. It would take A very solid movie. Worth watching, well made, and despite a few minor flaws, holds your attention and makes you think. What I will *NEVER* understand is the people who give movies, especially ones like this that got multiple perfect ratings and was objectively *at the very least* a decent movie, a 0. There is no way this movie gets less than a 5 if you are being objective. It would take a hauntingly bad movie to get a 2 or 3, a 0 would mean I would rather have been beat up or my wallet stolen than see it. Expand
  88. JaneA.
    Nov 19, 2005
    9
    A brilliiant depiction of the current socialised status that violent acts have in western communities. A triumph for Cronenberg and great work from his team.
  89. frankb
    Nov 24, 2005
    10
    I'm not sure the voters who rated this film poorly on this website paid much attention to any of the aspects that make this film a great one.
  90. jennyp.
    Nov 25, 2005
    10
    Such a good film. best gangster film ive seen in years. Cronenberg handled it well. casted very well. hope to see more of the same in the future.
  91. JimB.
    Nov 3, 2005
    10
    A hearty stew of intellegence and accessibility. "A History of Violence" has a new home on my favorite movies list.
  92. Rev.Rikard
    Nov 5, 2005
    9
    This movie is destined for Oscar nominations. The movie, in my opinion, offers the premise that the true history of violence lies somewhere deep in the human psyche. It is such a fundamental aspect of who we are that it is as basic to our existence as sex, and so universal to the human condition that even a family can "accept it," its consequences and move on. The movie ties violence This movie is destined for Oscar nominations. The movie, in my opinion, offers the premise that the true history of violence lies somewhere deep in the human psyche. It is such a fundamental aspect of who we are that it is as basic to our existence as sex, and so universal to the human condition that even a family can "accept it," its consequences and move on. The movie ties violence vividly to the instinctual reality of sexuality and its passion; especially as is revealed in the life of the teen son. Violence dwells within him but he chooses to remain a "virgin," not acting on its impulse for reasons of moral values and fear until "peer pressure" forces him to drop his defense mechanisms and beat the "alpha male" of at school to a pulp. Once he becomes Expand
  93. StephenF.
    Oct 16, 2005
    10
    Can You Ever Escape Your Past? By now, I would think that there is no need for a spoiler alert. In addition, the movie's title pretty much implies it's theme. David Cronenberg validates his stripes here by crafting an interesting, non-predictable and insightful tale about violence, finding peace, and escaping one's past. The story not so much has twists than an Can You Ever Escape Your Past? By now, I would think that there is no need for a spoiler alert. In addition, the movie's title pretty much implies it's theme. David Cronenberg validates his stripes here by crafting an interesting, non-predictable and insightful tale about violence, finding peace, and escaping one's past. The story not so much has twists than an unconventional, unexpected development of the events. It is captivating, with sporadic violence that thrills as well as turns your stomach. The only incongruity in the movie is the lightening speed killing machine Joey that Tom turns into. It is action that is more suitable to a James Bond or John Woo film than the drama/thriller here. Viggo Mortensen is nuanced, subtle and self-effacing as Tom/Joey, the man who finds peace and gentleness in his new life in a small, midwestern piece of Americana. Ed Harris and William Hurt gives interesting and substantial character performances as mobsters. The movie does not display pretensions. It tells an engrossing survival tale that ends with the shocking and seemingly impenetrable question of how does Tom escape his history of violence and recapture his peaceful life with his family? Expand
  94. danny
    Oct 17, 2005
    9
    I really dont understand the bad critism by some of the guys here . great movie.
  95. TracyB.
    Dec 21, 2005
    9
    Beautiful film- great acting by the leads.
  96. TalL.
    Dec 31, 2005
    10
    One of the best movies I've ever seen, up there with "Fargo" and "Eyes Wide Shut". It is graphically and shockingly violent, but it's a movie that puts you up against a mirror, and makes you think. It's a movie you remember. It's is a movie you come back to in your mind, wondering and obsessing how much of your reflection is driven by Cronenberg's crafty One of the best movies I've ever seen, up there with "Fargo" and "Eyes Wide Shut". It is graphically and shockingly violent, but it's a movie that puts you up against a mirror, and makes you think. It's a movie you remember. It's is a movie you come back to in your mind, wondering and obsessing how much of your reflection is driven by Cronenberg's crafty manipulation, and how much of it is really yours. Expand
  97. MattH.
    Oct 31, 2005
    10
    I'm not going to say that everyone who disliked this film didn't get it, but it's darn close and the majority of negative comments posted here reflect in the competence of the reviewer, not the quality of the film. Best movie of the year thus far, by far. A brilliant exploration of the perplexing relationship between human beings and their violent nature.
  98. Jay
    Sep 23, 2005
    10
    Masterful compelling, unpredictable, intelligent, funny and of course violent with a purpose, this masterpiece of an art film diguising as a mainstream modern western dtamatic thriller is by far one if not the best film of the year, Viggo, Maria, Ed Harris William Hur, Cronenberg and the rest of the cast and crew should be proud of such contribution and collaboration of producing great art.
  99. jaket.
    Sep 28, 2005
    10
    Great movie...I just saw Broken Flowers and was bored to death by Bill Murray blankly staring at a television set for two hours. That was a pointless piece of garbage. This film is Broken Flower's foil. Although the movie gets a bit strange midway, it all comes together in the end. I was suprised at how fast the plot was moving, but by the end of the movie, I realized that this was Great movie...I just saw Broken Flowers and was bored to death by Bill Murray blankly staring at a television set for two hours. That was a pointless piece of garbage. This film is Broken Flower's foil. Although the movie gets a bit strange midway, it all comes together in the end. I was suprised at how fast the plot was moving, but by the end of the movie, I realized that this was 97 minutes of pure entertainment. Superb acting (especially from William Hurt), and ingenious use of violence makes this film one of the year's best. If you are tired of Thumbsucker, Broken Flowers, Garden State and tired movies about middle aged men finding themselves in the midst of a midlige crisis, do yourself a favor and see this movie. Expand
  100. lucas.
    Sep 29, 2005
    10
    Beautiful, disturbing, insanely multilayered story, pierce right through the heart of the effect of violence (perpetrated or undergoed) on "normal" people. Never backs down for a moment, never wimps out, but the violence (and there's some very bloody moment) is not the "cool" variant seen in about one million movies since "Reservoir Dogs" - it's swift, merciless, scary. Beautiful, disturbing, insanely multilayered story, pierce right through the heart of the effect of violence (perpetrated or undergoed) on "normal" people. Never backs down for a moment, never wimps out, but the violence (and there's some very bloody moment) is not the "cool" variant seen in about one million movies since "Reservoir Dogs" - it's swift, merciless, scary. Outstanding performance from everyone involved (Cronenberg confirm his status as the best director of actors around), and I appreciated immensely the lack of any visual pretension - there's plenty of style here, but it's all about the substance. Don't dare to miss this one! 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.