"A History of Violence" originated as a graphic novel that was created by John Wagner and Vince Locke. It was adapted into a screenplay by Josh Olson and David Cronenberg decided to make it into a film. The movie was made on a budget of about $30 million and managed to recoup it in a limited US box office release. The film won the hearts of independent movie critics and managed to win a number of awards, along with 2 Academy Award nominations.
The story takes place in a small town in Indiana, where Tom Stall owns a diner and lives with his wife Edie. They have a young daughter named Edie as well as an adolescent son named Jack. The family appears to be tightly knit and happy, but things change when two criminals come into town.
Two murderers come into town and decide to stop at Stall's diner. They end up causing trouble and pulling guns out, but Tom manages to kill them both, while sustaining only a foot injury. He is dubbed a hero and featured on national television, attracting both positive and negative attention.
Soon after the incident, some shady characters come into town and show up at Stall's diner. Their leader is a creepy man with a scarred eye named Carl Fogarty, who is convinced that Tom is really a man named Joey Cusack. Tom tells him to leave, but Fogarty sticks around town, harassing Tom's wife and kids. Eventually, Fogarty kidnaps Tom's son and they end up in a shootout, after which Tom is the only man standing. After the shootout, Tom's family begins to wonder if he really is hiding something from them.
The film's main character is played by Viggo Mortensen, in what I consider one of his best roles. His wife is played by Maria Bello and his children are played by Ashton Holmes and Heidi Hayes. Carl Fogarty is played by Ed Harris, who really shines as the cruel and disturbing gangster.
Although the film was independent, it was made with a large budget and has great video quality. It was shot in wide screen, which makes for some really great wide angle shots of scenery. The overall tone of the film is very dark, reflecting the violence and mystery that the film centers around.
The movie's plot really moves along at a nice clip and doesn't drag at all. It features two steamy sex scenes between Tom and his wife, but there is not any serious nudity on the screen. There is however, a lot of violence, which is very disturbing, but not glorified.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I was kept in a lot of suspense up until the end, trying to figure out who Tom Stall really was. The premise of the movie makes one wonder what secrets our own friends might have about their past that we never learn about. If you have the chance to watch this film, I highly recommend that you do so.