Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

A History of Violence

07November2005 [movies]
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Though only 1h35, this film is too long. It’s okay all told, a take on the former-gangster’s American dream is disrupted when he’s recognised… Mortensen can be a great actor, but he didn’t have enough material to work with here — nor did anyone for that matter. The film spent too long setting up the ‘happy life’ that he had made for himself as middle-American Tom Stall; then too long in denial about whether or not he was Philly-gangster Joey Cusack, while not really exploiting the possibilities of split personality; then finally wrapped up the loose ends, but missing the ‘bigger-fish’ possibilities. Though the plotlines were closed, the film ended rather abruptly, unwilling to make a call between a happy ending and ambiguity, nor a call over Mortensen’s character’s morality. I like ambiguity in a film, but this was worse, like it wasn’t sure about whether or not it should be ambiguous, so just stopped…

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