A History of Violence (film)


A History of Violence (film)

Infobox_Film
name = A History of Violence



caption = Promotional poster for "A History of Violence"
director = David Cronenberg
producer = Chris Bender
JC Spink|
writer = Screenplay:
Josh Olson
Graphic Novel:
John Wagner
starring = Viggo Mortensen
Maria Bello
Ed Harris
William Hurt
movie_music= Howard Shore
editing = Ronald Sanders
distributor= New Line Cinema
released= September 23, 2005
runtime = 96 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0399146
music = Howard Shore
awards =
amg_id = 1:308382
budget = $32,000,000 (est.)
gross = $60,332,684|

"A History of Violence" is an Academy Award nominated, 2005 crime thriller film directed by David Cronenberg, and written by Josh Olson, based on the graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke. The film features Viggo Mortensen as the owner of a diner who is thrust into the spotlight after killing two robbers in self-defense. Most of the film was shot in Millbrook, Ontario, and the climactic scene was shot at the historic Eaton Hall Mansion, located in King City, Ontario, Canada. [ [http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/September2006/06/c3359.html Newswire article] ] The film was put into limited release in the United States on September 23, 2005 and wide-release on September 30, 2005. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for William Hurt and Best Adapted Screenplay for Josh Olson. It has the distinction of being the final major Hollywood motion picture released on VHS. [ [http://citypaper.com/film/story.asp?id=13351 Citypaper.com article] ]

Plot

The film starts with two robbers leaving a motel. The older robber goes to the front desk to check out, and murders everyone in the motel off screen. Before they drive away, the older robber forces the younger to go back into the motel and fill a gallon jug with water. When the second robber goes into the motel, we see the dead bodies. He then shoots and kills a terrified little girl to leave no witnesses behind.

Tom Stall is a local restaurant owner in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana who lives peacefully with his lawyer wife Edie, his teenage son Jack and younger daughter Sarah. One night the robbers come into Millbrook and stop at Tom's restaurant. The older robber asks for some coffee, to which Tom replies that they are closed. The older robber yells at Tom to get him some coffee, then tells the younger robber to keep a female employee from leaving. Tom gets a stale pot of hot coffee and says they don't carry too much money. The robber then takes out his pistol. He shouts at a terrified teenage girl to silence her screaming and tells the younger robber to kill the female employee. Tom smashes the coffee pot into the distracted robber's face. Tom then jumps over the counter, grabs the older robber's gun, and shoots the younger robber. The older robber, on the floor, pulls out a concealed knife and stabs Tom in the foot, pinning him to the ground. Tom yells in pain, then shoots the older robber in the head. Still holding the gun, Tom looks around, stunned.

Tom's apparent heroic actions spark national attention. In the subsequent publicity, Tom is visited at work by a scarred man named Carl Fogarty. Fogarty alleges Tom is really someone named Joey Cusack from Philadelphia. Tom denies the allegation and claims he has never been to Philadelphia. Edie later calls the sheriff to get information on Fogarty. He surprises them by telling them that Fogarty is a top ranking boss in the Irish Mob in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Fogarty is persistent. His constant presence and threatening behavior menaces the whole Stall family. One day Edie loses Sarah in the shopping mall but finds her at a toy store, being watched by Fogarty. Fogarty says that he's been watching over her. Edie then tells him to stay away from her family. He then mocks her by daring her to ask Tom why he is so good at killing people.

Meanwhile, Jack, who has always avoided fighting when bullied at school, now retaliates against his tormentors who are trying to get at him by making fun of his father by severely beating them up. He kicks one of the bullies in the crotch and punches and kicks the other several times while screaming apparently sending the bully to the hospital. He and Tom have an argument which ends when Tom slaps Jack after Jack mocks him, saying that problems in the family are solved by shooting people. He then runs away. Tom is even more disappointed to hear that Edie had an encounter with Fogarty. Suddenly they notice Fogarty's car driving up their lane. Tom walks outside with Edie and the family shotgun on the front porch. Fogarty mocks him about him being Tom Stall and calls him Joey for most of the time while asking him to come with them. When Tom refuses, Fogarty reveals that he has kidnapped Jack. Edie runs over for Jack but Tom stops her and one of Fogarty's men prevent Jack from escaping. Tom tells a horrified Edie to go up to their younger daughter Sarah for protection. Fogarty asks Tom again to come with them to Philadelphia to meet some people.

Tom refuses even after they let Jack go. When one of Fogarty's men try to forcefully subdue him with a gun, Tom disarms him and, using his palm, forces his nose into his brain. Using the pistol from the now incapacitated, and slowly dying, man, Tom guns down a second lackey who is aiming a gun at Tom. While Tom kills the lackey, Fogarty pulls his gun and shoots Tom's right shoulder, causing Tom to drop the gun. Fogarty stops Tom from reaching the gun, then asks if he has any last words; Tom looks Fogarty in the eyes and says "I shoulda killed you back in Philly," revealing that he in fact is Joey Cusack. Fogarty smiles at the admission, saying, "Yeah, "Joey", you should have." However, unseen by Fogarty, Jack has picked up Tom's shotgun and kills Fogarty before he can shoot his father.

At the hospital, Edie questions him, saying that she saw Tom turn into Joey. Tom then shocks Edie by admitting that he was Joey Cusack, causing her to become violently ill. Shocked, she demands if he's a "multiple personality schizoid." Tom never answers, but says that "he killed Joey in the desert" and spent three years transforming into his new persona. Despite Edie's revulsion, she defends Tom's innocence when the sheriff asks if the mobsters were right.

Some days later, Richard "Richie" Cusack, Tom's brother and a Philadelphia crime boss, telephones Tom and demands that "Joey" visit him. Tom drives to Philadelphia to meet his brother at his estate. Richie welcomes his brother but reveals that the bosses of the mob took out their frustration on the vanished Joey by holding Richie down from advancing in the organization. He remembers how Joey left things, assaulting Fogarty and killing some of his men, and Tom says that he's come back to Philadelphia to make peace with his brother. He asks what it will take for the score to be settled, and Richie says the only thing that will square things with the mafia is Joey's death. One of his men then tries to garrote Tom, but he fights off the assault and escapes, injuring his attacker and killing another of Richie's men on the way out of the room. Richie and another bodyguard begin to search the house for Tom, but Tom splits them up by shoving Richie out the front door, which locks behind him. As Richie fumbles for his keys, Tom opens the door holding a gun, having killed the third bodyguard. Seeing the gun aimed at his head, Richie nervously says, "Jesus, Joey." Tom hesitates, then shoots his brother in the head and kills him, saying, "Jesus, Richie." He then discards the gun in the lake behind the house and leaves.

Tom then drives home to his family, who are all sitting down to dinner. He receives a silent welcome in a tense atmosphere, where only his daughter can initially make eye contact with him. Tom and Edie look at each other, both with tears in their eyes, across from each other at the table. The movie ends with the viewer wondering if they still love each other and if the family can accept Tom for who he is.

Cast

Adaptation

The film is loosely based on the original graphic novel. Screenwriter Josh Olson intended from the very beginning to use the original story as a springboard to explore the themes that interested him, and Cronenberg admitted that he did not know the screenplay was an adapted work until he had begun discussing Olson's second draft. The diner scene that sets the story in motion is nearly identical, and the basic cast of characters remains largely unchanged. The particulars of the plot are very different, especially as the story progresses.

The protagonist's name is changed from Tom McKenna to Tom Stall; John Torrino becomes Carl Fogarty, Tom's son Buzz becomes Jack, his daughter Ellie becomes Sarah, and Sheriff Carney's first name changes from Frank to Sam. The town in which the story takes place is changed from River's Bend, Michigan to Millbrook, Indiana, and the origin of the mobsters is changed from Brooklyn to Philadelphia. According to the German press kit, David Cronenberg and screenwriter Josh Olson changed the Italian-sounding names because they did not want the audience to anticipate Tom's Mafia ties too early in the film. In the film's audio commentary, Cronenberg says that Joey and Richie were Italian in Olson's screenplay, which he changed because Viggo Mortensen and William Hurt would not make convincing Italians, and he wanted to keep the film away from "the "Sopranos" Syndrome."

Much of the story of the graphic novel is a lengthy flashback detailing Tom's falling out with the mob. While the film is completely sequential and makes a brief and vague allusion to the trouble Tom caused as mob member, the graphic novel details at length a heist perpetrated by Tom against the mob. Olson opted to focus on Tom's struggles against his past and his relationship with his family, largely to the exclusion of the details of his falling out with his brother and the Mafia.

The most profound alterations of the original novel's plot concern the character of Richie and his fate. In the comic book, he and Tom are childhood friends; while in the film they are brothers (they were not brothers in Olson's original screenplay; Cronenberg changed them to brothers to give their relationship more resonance). In the novel, Richie is captured by mobsters and mutilated after the incident that sends Tom on the lam: Richie's limbs are cut off and his eye taken out, yet he is still kept alive to be suspended from the ceiling in a harness and tortured for years. During the dramatic climax of the graphic novel Tom comes face to face with Richie, and Tom suffocates him in an act of euthanasia. In the film, Richie is depicted as Tom's brother; he is a mob boss who tries to have Tom killed. However, Tom ultimately overcomes Riche's henchmen, and subsequently kills his brother.

While in the comic, Tom's family is supportive and completely understanding, the film depicts his family struggling with the startling truth about Tom. The lengthy subplot concerning his son Jack turning to violence after his father's example does not exist in the comic, nor does the emotionally charged fight (and subsequent rough sex on the stairs) between Tom and Edie. In the comic, Edie shoots Torrino, and in the film, Jack shoots Fogarty. The comic concludes with Tom violently defeating the mobsters that haunted him, whereas the film ends with Tom's silent return to his family; a change that drastically shifts the tone of the film towards a more familial focus.

Interpretation

The film's title plays on multiple levels of meaning. Roger Ebert says that David Cronenberg suggests three possibilities: "(1) to a suspect with a long history of violence; (2) to the historical use of violence as a means of settling disputes, and (3) to the innate violence of Darwinian evolution, in which better-adapted organisms replace those less able to cope", with the last as the dominant focus of the film. "I am a complete Darwinian," says Cronenberg, A History of Violence is in many ways about the survival of the fittest—at all costs. [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050922/REVIEWS/50919002/1023 Rogerebert.com reviews: A History of Violence] ] Cronenberg did not come up with the title, however. That distinction belongs to John Wagner.

Thematic similarities between the film and the works of Sam Peckinpah have been much commented on: in an interview, Cronenberg did not deny this but also emphasized that there were significant differences both in terms of plot and style.Fact|date=March 2007 Olson has acknowledged the debt the film pays to Peckinpah, especially the film "Straw Dogs". He has also cited David Peoples' and Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (there is a sly reference to pig farming by William Hurt's character) and the 1947 Jacques Tourneur thriller, "Out of the Past".

Critical reception

Besides receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Josh Olson), the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes claims 87% of critics have given the film positive reviews (based on 189 reviews). [cite web|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/history_of_violence/ |title=A History of Violence - Rotten Tomatoes |accessdate=2007-09-23 |publisher=Rotten Tomatoes] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 81 out of 100, based on 37 reviews. [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/historyofviolence |title=History of Violence, A (2005): Reviews |accessdate=2007-09-23 |publisher=Metacritic] It was ranked the best film of 2005 in the Village Voice Film Poll. [ [http://www.villagevoice.com/take/seven.php?page=winners&category=1 village voice > take 7 film critics' poll ] ]

Awards and nominations

Won

*Danish Film Critics Association (Bodil Award)
**Best American Picture
*Hollywood Legacy Awards
**Writer of the Year (Josh Olson)
*12th Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards
**Top Ten Films
*40th Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards
**Best Supporting Actress (Maria Bello)
*31st Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
**Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt)
*40th National Society of Film Critics Awards
**Best Director (David Cronenberg)
**Best Supporting Actor (Ed Harris)
*71st New York Film Critics Circle Awards
**Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt)
**Best Supporting Actress (Maria Bello)
*9th Online Film Critics Society Awards
**Best Director (David Cronenberg)
**Best Picture
**Best Supporting Actress (Maria Bello)
*10th San Diego Film Critics Society Awards
**Best Editing (Ronald Sanders)
*9th Toronto Film Critics Association Awards
**Best Director (David Cronenberg)
**Best Picture
*Village Voice Film Poll
**Best Picture
**Best Director (David Cronenberg)
**7th Best Lead Performance (Viggo Mortensen)
**Best Supporting Performance (Maria Bello)
**5th Best Supporting Performance (William Hurt)
**7th Best Supporting Performance (Ed Harris)
**3rd Best Screenplay (Josh Olson)

Nominations

*78th Academy Awards
**Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Josh Olson)
**Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt) - while his role was acclaimed, Hurt was only in the film for eight minutes.
*59th British Academy Film Awards
**Adapted Screenplay (Josh Olson)
*Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards
**Best Motion Picture Screen Play (Josh Olson)
*USC Scripter Awards
**John Wagner and Vince Locke (authors) and Josh Olson (screenwriter)
*2005 Cannes Film Festival
**Golden Palm (David Cronenberg)
*63rd Golden Globe Awards
**Best Picture - Drama
**Best Actress - Drama (Maria Bello)
*Gotham Awards
**Best Film (David Cronenberg)
*31st Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
**Best Picture
**Best Director (David Cronenberg)
*9th Online Film Critics Society Awards
**Best Editing (Ronald Sanders)
**Best Screenplay - Adapted (Josh Olson)
**Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt)
*10th Satellite Awards
**Best Picture - Drama
**Best Actor - Drama (Viggo Mortensen)
**Best Supporting Actress - Drama (Maria Bello)
*58th Writers Guild of America Awards
**Best Screenplay - Adapted (Josh Olson)

ee also

*"A History of Violence" (original graphic novel)
*List of films based on English-language comics

References

External links

* [http://www.historyofviolence.com/ Official site]
*imdb title|id=0399146|title=A History of Violence
*rotten-tomatoes|id=history_of_violence|title=A History of Violence
*metacritic film|id=historyofviolence|title=A History of Violence
*mojo title|id=historyofviolence|title=A History of Violence
*amg movie|id=1:308382|title=A History of Violence


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