A History of Violence

 (3,846)7.41 h 35 min2005X-RayR
An average family is thrust into the spotlight after the father (Viggo Mortensen) commits a seemingly self-defense murder at his diner.
David Cronenberg
Viggo MortensenMaria BelloWilliam Hurt
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Ed HarrisAshton HolmesStephen McHattiePeter MacNeillSumela Kay
Chris BenderJ.C. Spink
New Line
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usenuditysexual contentviolence
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4.6 out of 5 stars

3846 global ratings

  1. 75% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Gene CiscoReviewed in the United States on October 27, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
When Violence Meets its Challenge
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I don't know why they called this "A History of Violence," unless the writer felt our country has such a history. This film is a great companion for "No Country for Old Men," for they both have their reasons. In the opening minutes we see evil incarnate silently take the lives of innocent motel owners without remorse or redemption. The inhumane killers move on to another city as if to suggest evil is largely unchecked. That is when a quiet family man, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortenson), just wants to enjoy his small diner and rural life when his true past gets exposed when he becomes a hero on the local tv, and his wife, (Maria Bello) and son have questions. Overnight, some mobsters haunt the diner and Tom Stall can no longer contain his long-retired skills of dealing with human obstacles. The action picks up as the Stalls find themselves defending their home, established reputation and marriage. Tom Stall unwinds and releases his martial skills so much that he soon has the attention of his brother (William Hurt) who sent (Ed Harris) to settle the issue. He doesn't, so Tom Stall has to swallow his pride and meet with his estranged brother in Boston, into the lion's den. Even creepier, director David Cronenberg shows a quick encounter mid-town at an intersection between some hot-headed teens and the mute tserial killers we saw in the opening minutes just for added tension. Very spooky. There are other scary moments in this film that makes this unique that you must experience in the moment. Watch this study of quiet demeanor hiding the Bruce Lee within to find out if Tom Stall lives to enjoy a quiet meal at home. Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again. He might be wrong. I'm not telling.
4 people found this helpful
Erich ZannReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A great film and a great presentation.
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I won’t get into what an amazing film this is. It’s powerful and vivid and one of Cronenberg’s best. I will talk about the blu ray. It’s a beautiful transfer, rich blacks and a credit to the cinematographers vision. At first I thought the top menu was pretty scaled down- no scene selection interface or even a scene from the film in the background like most. It looks like a webpage. But oh, so many extras. The most pivotal scenes broken down and analyzed with interviews from director, cast, and crew. A brilliant featurette on the scene that ended up deleted. Commentary too. This is definitely a must have if you love this film.
3 people found this helpful
Christina ReynoldsReviewed in the United States on July 6, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Unexpected, and Yet Predictable
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Let's not waste any time here.
The best way to describe this movie? Dynamic.

Given the description of this movie alone it's not surprising how fast the action moves along once it gets started.About 20 minutes in we see our first act of "violence" on screen and from then there's very brief moments of peace to break up this film's momentum.

Given the plot alone there isn't much room for surprise since the story revolves around a very specific epicenter; in an act of self-defence that turns violent Tom is hailed as a heroin in his hometown but this is also welcomed with company that insinuates that there is another side to Tom's character that is ruthless, and not to mention: dangerous.
The question becomes simply in regards to these accusations about Tom's past - is it, or is not true? Because of this the story can only stray /so/ far, and makes much of what happens rather predictable in hindsight. This presents a challenge for the director as they must work harder to keep their audience committed to seeing this story through to the end. ( and I do say, they do a damn good job).

My favorite thing about this film was the line delivery. As I mentioned before, a lot of the elements of this movie are to be expected, and the dialogue is no exception. With that said, the way these characters speak is so powerful that even the ones we foresee hearing have an 'edge' to them that keeps the audience unduly satisfied. I could not be any happier with the flow of discourse and it really stands out on its own in this film.

My only complaint would be that Tom's character really didn't present much in a way that I could describe as ambiguous, and I think given the subject matter it would have added to the suspense & mystery even if just in a tiny way. There's absolutely no point in the movie where the audience is given the impression that Tom doesn't have "outstandingly violent" potential, and a few scenes where Tom solves problems or resolves conflict relatively peacefully would have added a complexity to this film that was meandering in the background and desperate to come out.

With THAT said, I haven't been this scared and enticed by an actor's performance simultaneously like this for a very long time; While it certainly wasn't needed (because all of the actors did a good job on their own) Mortensen could have very well carried this movie on his own if it was. HIs performance alone makes this movie a MUST watch.

Obvious warning that this movie is exceptionally violent.

All-in-all: I would recommend.
2 people found this helpful
Abram DorroughReviewed in the United States on January 1, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of my all time favorites
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An astounding movie about the psychological complexity of dealing with one's past, and how behavioral traits develop in a family setting. Viggo is phenomenal. A must-see. Great picture quality on the transfer to Blu ray.
21 people found this helpful
sefriendlyguyReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
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this show is about a family that lives in a small town and the husband, Tom Stall(viggo Mortensen)
runs the local cafe in town and the wife ms. Stall(maria Bella) she runs the house, while he is at work
when one day, everything is turned up side down, some guys show up at the diner as they are closing
asking for coffee, as you will see, coffee is the least of there worries, but, TOM winds up hurt,
the little town sees him as a heron on the local news and they even send reporters out to the house to interview him
these guys seem to think he is someone else and they want him to go back to Philly with them.
without giving away the story, things happen , blood is shed, there is some brief nudity and life goes on as normal
but, how that life works out is why you should watch this show.
One person found this helpful
Rabid ReaderReviewed in the United States on September 10, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent Movie
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What I liked most about this movie is that the story and the actor are excellently matched. He's a guy walking a narrow path between who he was--and that he wants that old life (an artifact of his family rather than his doing) dead and gone and forgotten--and who he has become--and the new, better self he has painstakingly built and wants to remain.
As usual, Viggo Mortensen is the master of the micro-expression. Which means he has the acting ability to play a character like this when many another actor could not.
I enjoyed this a lot.
So I recommend it.
But I also would say that it is much too violent and contains too much "going over the head by a mile" adult content to be appropriate for a kid. They won't "get" it. This has violence, but it is in no way an action film.
F.HoffmanReviewed in the United States on June 25, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fine acting generally, with some standout performances by William Hurt and Ed Harris.
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I liked this film when I saw it during first-run in the theater, and it has held up pretty well over time. There are some holes... like the quick transition from the scene with the three fresh corpses lying in the front yard... I would have liked to see the coroners inquest for that one. The best acting in my opinion was that of William Hurt, in the theater he scared the crap out of me and he was nearly as effective on the small screen; evil incarnate. All of the acting was well done (Ed Harris is always great), the camera work and editing added to the mood and effectively pulled event sequence along.
8 people found this helpful
Elvis41330Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
good movie, a little hard to believe
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So help me out here if you will? The son and the mom buried Ed Harris and the other two somewhere on the back forty, am I correct? If she called the sheriff, uh..well? I`m not sure how that would have went down, of course if I`m the sheriff of BFE and I pull up in the driveway. I`m probably gonna help em out, cuz, its not like their shy about the formerly deceased that`s already fertilizing their lawn. So other than that minor detail, oh! One other thing, never stab a man in the foot when he is armed, just out of reflex..well you saw it...he mighta lived? Coffee through an IV, forever.. Also, if Fogarty was a made man, there should have been a very quickly made sequel that would properly illustrate what the family`s response to his disappearance might have been.
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