Saturday, October 15, 2005

A History of Violence

A History of Violence (directed by David Cronenberg): Rating 8/10

Hmm, a difficult movie to judge! I had huge expectations of this movie, which is a reason I think I felt a wee bit letdown. Anyway, onto the story... For the sake of not giving away a lot, the movie can be broken down into a couple of levels: a western on one hand, and a mob movie on the other.

Western: A man with no name comes to a small town. He starts a family and lives a peaceful life. One day two bad men come to his café and threaten the staff. The Man with no name leaps to the rescue and shoots the two bad men. He becomes a town hero. But then one day, three men in black suits come visit him. One of them who has a scarred eye and face seems to insist on knowing the town hero. He claims that the Man with no name has a name after all. Hmm. Could it be true? Is there something more to this than meets the eye?

Mob Movie: So can the Man with no name be who the mob people say he is? The mob element conveniently forms the second half of the movie.

And on top of these visible levels is another level – survival. Yes the very question of survival of the fittest. This is what the movie is about in the end. Whoever has the power will prevail. And whoever has the gun will win. A Canadian director has directed a very American movie indeed. Yes in some cases, violence is the only means to a solution. But what if there was no mob element in the movie? How would things have turned up? We won’t know the answer to that because the movie is based on a graphic novel, meaning it was already tied to the story. For me I would have loved to see a darker movie and not something which was reduced to clichés because of the mob. And I thought William Hurt (he makes an appearance near the end) was terrible. I don’t think there should have been humor in this movie but there is. Maybe it was a way to sell the movie to multiplexes. But Mystic River has also played in these same theatres, so has 21 Grams. One of my problems with Dogville was the mob element in that movie. But the fact is that Dogville and History of Violence are in the end dictated by the mob elements – things turn up the way they do because of the mob. But I wish these movies had taken a different route. Things turn up the way they do because of people’s action. Using the mob simply lends an easy avenue to explain everything, it makes everything more acceptable. And at the end of the day, having a gun only blurs the line between thought and action. The movie goes back to the question that was asked in Bowling for Columbine regarding gun violence – are people safe because they have guns? Because no matter what, the bad guys will always have guns. So the good guys must have guns too.

Yes everyone should apparently have guns. We can then go around solving all problems like in the days of the Wild West. Yup. A History of Violence, Indeed!!!!


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Pacze Moj said...

I thought the film raised a lot of points, but didn't have anything to say. And, man, I found it boring. But I usually just don't "get" Cronenberg or people who "get" Cronenbeg. Also, I think too much is being made of Cronenberg being a Canadian -- and making some sort of profound statement about American culture.