What makes this movie so good is the utter simplicity of its form and plot. No razzle-dazzle here. Just pure and honest themes and great performances. The final scene is for me the best example that proves that cinema is an art of images rather than words.
Cronenberg hits the nerve once again with this superbly narrated kind of John Ford drama with echoes of Out of the past all mixed up with his insatiable flesh and blood feast. Ed Harris steals every scene he's in.
You can feel the tension boiling beneath the surface, and the film serves as a dialogue on the voyeurism of violence. A History of Violence is a meticulous slow-burner, but the escalating chaos culminates with a tense and devastating climax.
Even though the content is a far cry from Cronenberg's early body horror fare, A History of Violence fits right in with the themes he's explored his whole career, and is a moving, visceral, and ultimately emotional work of art. His presentation of the violence that lurks within mankind is unflinching and disturbing, but ultimately the movie is about redemption. Plus there's some great acting here.
Is just amazing how violence in Cronenberg films never sounds appellative/unnecessary. And the major difference here is the director's skill in dealing (as few) with the complexity of the human mind and creating rich/interesting characters. A History of Violence seems average, but hides, behind the curtain of simplicity, a insanely good plot. Furthermore, starts one of the finest partnerships of contemporary cinema.
The character depth is evident, but subtle - not forced in any way. The first and final scenes were equally well executed, where Cronenberg truly shines. Each relationship was developed well - especially in one of the final scenes (I can't spoil it). However, I couldn't help but feel that one or two scenes were unneccesary, or maybe too long. Overall, a very enjoyable film. 4/5.
Man the end of this film ruined it, I was really enjoying this film right up until the last 20 minutes or so where he goes hunting gangsters - it just becomes ridiculously absurd at that point, what a half assed mess 3 stars