HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005)

TMG Scale 9.0
Starring Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt

How many people out there are really leading dual lives? Many have secrets in their closets. Perhaps a secret military career? Perhaps a job or an arrest? Perhaps an addiction that was overcome like alcoholism, drugs or gambling?  Are you obligated to tell everyone?  Or are you entitled to bury a past you prefer to forget? Is your wife of twenty years or your child entitled to know?  All great questions.  Answers are quite elusive but this film will make you ponder them as you go to sleep.

Tom Stall (Mortenson) has a beautiful wife Edie (Bello),  a young daughter and teenage son named Jack. They live in the bucolic (but fictional) town of Millbrook, Indiana. [An interesting side note is that the film was actually made in Millbrook, Ontario, just north or Toronto.] They live in a quaint farmhouse just on the edge of town. Edie is a local lawyer and Tom is a mild manered proprietor of the downtown cafe. Son Jack is a nice, but nerdy pacifist, who gets bullied at school. The sun goes down and comes up.. . . until some thugs try to rob Stalls Cafe one day. Tom reacts as a Jason Bourne style trained killer and shoots the two thugs.  A new local town hero is born…but even the most admiring have doubts how the soft spoken Tom Stalls pulled it off. It is all about to go away when a black car arrives in town. Some mob bosses in Philadelphia caught the local news and they want “Joey Cusack”  back for some unfinished business.

This movie is a bit dark, brooding and tells a disturbing tale that keeps you on edge. I think the reason is the film seems very real. Will someone from your own past come back someday and reveal something you thought long forgotten or lost? Or could some mobster like Carol Fogarty (Harris) arrive someday and in a case of mistaken identity, think you are someone he needs to settle a score with? Could you protect your family? We are also teased with such issues as does violence beget violence? Can violence be genetic? On the surface the film presents the obvious question of whether anyone can ever truly escape “the mob.”  It goes deeper though to ponder whether violence itself  has an insidious and even immortal life of its own that has to play out to some conclusion

The more compelling questions raised are ones of honesty with your family and yourself regarding your own past. Just who is entitled to know? Frankly, TMG has no answers and this movie provides none, but it sure paints an unsettling tale of the potential consequences. TMG has his own dual life to get back to :)

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