Thoughts on History of Violence

Josh and I rented David Cronenberg's History of Violence yesterday and I was blown away by how good it was. Like The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - another recent movie I really enjoyed - History of Violence deals with vengeance, morality, and redemption. On the surface, HOF is a thriller and Cronenberg's most commercial film to date. I wouldn't be surprised if some of his fans were put-off by this film because it is quite accessible in comparison to some of his previous outings like Crash, Existenz, Dead Zone, etc.

It is, however, also a very smart film that undercuts the thriller genre and America's culture of violence. In thrillers and action movies, cinematic brutality is glorified. We cheer action heroes like Rambo when he shoots up the "bad guys". In movies like Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Kill Bill, the fight scenes are made to look slick and "cool". When we are shown fighting in HOF, though, it is not stylized. It is sloppy, gruesome, and incredibly realistic. We are usually never shown the consequences of violence and this movie deals with just that. How an act of violence, even in self-defense can effect the individual as well as the people around him in significant and disturbing ways.

Rent it. History of Violence is a must see.

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