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A History of Violence

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Photo Credit :: History of Violence
Arts & Entertainment
A History of Violence
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
January 6, 2006 
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Right from the start of A History of Violence, David Cronenberg makes it clear that the nightmares his characters dream are inseparable from their reality. You can run but you canít hide, thatís what Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) discovers after a spontaneous act of heroism. Based on a graphic novel by Jack Wagner and Vince Locke, Cronenberg directs his scenes in a style which evokes the graphic novelís storyboard panels as well as its laconic and often-cliched dialogue. Thereís an intentional slowness to the filmís start, as if to suggest the placid surfaces of a smug quotidian existence in Millbrook, Indiana, where Stall lives with his wife, Edie (Maria Bello), and their two children, Jack and Sarah. Particularly with the scenes set at Jackís high school, Cronenberg seems to be juxtaposing the platitudes of an after-school t.v. special with the archetypes of the teenage slasher film. High school bullies and serial killers lurk around every corner Ė and itís not long before the man in black (Ed Harris as Carl Fogarty, complete with a wandering dead eye in milky-blue) stalks our heroís every move. Splattered with blood and guts, the film is nonetheless primarily concerned with familial relationships under the strain of violence. When the lies of the past come home to roost, is there room enough for forgiveness? Or more specifically, once your front lawn is littered with bodies, can you trust the man in your bed? Cronenberg seems to believe that even so you can still get a good nightís sleep.