A History Of Violence (2005)

(In theaters, October 2005) “Cronenberg does Charles Bronson” would have been an interesting log-line if it wasn’t for the end result, which feels a lot like “Charles Bronson on Valium”. The simple, simple story of a man sucked back in violent acts after years escaping his past, A History Of Violence is pretty thoroughly spoiled by its trailer, and not even a radically different third act actually deviates from the story act suggested in the first half hour of the film. The performances are nicely understated and the director consciously avoids any glorification of action, but this doesn’t play as well as you would think: The film rather feels like swimming in molasses, ruminating over the same points over and over again. The last twenty minutes of the film feel like a replay of the previous forty, with the protagonist doing pretty much what he has to do in order to solve the problem. Again. The tepid pacing doesn’t help much: we’ve seen this story dozens of time before, in B-movies that at least had the decency not to take themselves too seriously. But Cronenberg does, A History Of Violence does, and this valiant attempt to bring grind-house plotting to the geriatric set does no one any favour.

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