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"A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE"
(2005) (Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Extreme Extreme Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Heavy None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Minor Moderate Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Suspense: After becoming a local hero for dispatching some villainous thugs, a small-town diner owner must deal with mob-based allegations that he's someone other than who he says he is.
PLOT:
In the small town of Millbrook, Tom Stall (VIGGO MORTENSEN) is an easygoing diner owner, husband to lawyer Edie (MARIA BELLO) and father to young Sarah (HEIDI HAYES) and her teenage brother Jack (ASHTON HOLMES) who has problems being picked on by high school bully Bobby (KYLE SCHMID). Tom's life forever changes when two murderous thugs enter his diner looking for trouble. With surprising efficiency, Tom easily thwarts their efforts, violently killing them.

His actions make him a local hero, but they also draw the attention of Philly mob figure Carl Fogaty (ED HARRIS) who arrives in Millbrook soon thereafter with his thugs in tow. Fogaty acts like he knows Tom, calls him Joey and informs him that another mob boss, Richie Cusack (WILLIAM HURT), is also interested in him. Tom claims he has no idea who these men are or what they're talking about and is glad when Sheriff Sam Carney (PETER MACNEILL) steps in to encourage the men to move on.

They do, but it's not long before they're back again with the same claims. With Edi wondering what's going on and Jack following in his father's footsteps in dealing with Bobby, Tom must decide how to deal with this situation that threatens to upend his life in ways he wasn't expecting.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Fans of the film's director (David Cronenberg) or anyone in the cast might be interested in it, but other than older, curious teens, it doesn't seem likely many other kids will want to.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong brutal violence, graphic sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • VIGGO MORTENSEN plays a small-town diner owner who becomes a local hero when he thwarts the efforts of two criminals. His killing of them, however, draws the attention of Fogaty and his goons who claim he's someone other than who he says he is. He denies that, but must deal with their persistence and the pressure that puts on his marriage to Edie. He uses profanity, kills various people and has sex with his wife several times.
  • MARIA BELLO plays his lawyer wife who isn't sure how to react to these character allegations and developments. She uses strong profanity and has sex with him.
  • ED HARRIS plays a scarred mafia man who comes looking for Tom, claiming he's really a gangster who must be returned to Philly. He won't take no for an answer.
  • WILLIAM HURT plays a high-ranking mafia figure who has a special interest in Tom stating, like Fogaty, that the diner owner is someone else. He kills one of his own men when disappointed in him and uses profanity.
  • ASHTON HOLMES plays Tom and Edie's teenage son who shows his own violent tendencies when he finally snaps after too many instances of Bobby bullying him. He briefly shares a joint with a girl.
  • HEIDI HAYES plays his younger sister.
  • PETER MACNEILL plays the local sheriff who tries to run off Fogaty and his goons.
  • KYLE SCHMID plays the school bully who makes Jack's life a living hell. He uses strong profanity, tries to intimidate Jack and roughs him up.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated dramatic thriller. Profanity consists of at least 15 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Sexually related dialogue is present, as are two graphic sex scenes involving a married couple with movement, sounds, nudity and a moment of mutual oral sex, while that woman's full frontal nudity is seen afterwards.

    Violence consists of brutal, bloody and lethal fighting and shootings, along with some high school fighting (with bloody results). The action and stunts might be enticing for some kids to imitate, while they and other moments of peril might be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers. All sorts of characters have bad attitudes, while father/son and husband/wife tense family material is present. Some characters drink and a teen briefly shares a marijuana joint with another teen.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A guy jokingly asks Tom if an unseen woman is drunk again.
  • Jack and his female friend appear to be smoking and sharing a joint on the street at night.
  • Jack says that their future is to grow up, get jobs, have affairs and become alcoholics.
  • Bobby and his friend drink from a bottle and drive.
  • We see a neon sign for a martini outside a bar where miscellaneous people drink inside it and Tom buys a beer when he arrives (but doesn't drink it).
  • Richie has a drink after offering one to Tom (who declines the offer).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A criminal goes back into the motel where he and his partner have stayed and doesn't react to seeing a dead clerk and a lot of blood on his body/clothing and the adjacent counter. We then see a dead and bloody woman on the floor with a big pool of blood there as well.
  • We see a close-up view of a man's very bloody and seemingly now disfigured face after he's been shot there at close range.
  • Carl has a bad looking eye as well as a very scarred face.
  • Bobby's face and the floor by him are bloody after Jack finally fights back and attacks him.
  • Tom shoots a guy (with bloody results) and then shoots another man whose blood splatters back onto Tom, covering him.
  • We hear the sound of Edie vomiting from fear and/or disgust at what's occurred.
  • We see a bad bruise on Edie's back.
  • Several men are bloody after Tom attacks and kills them. His hands are bloody from catching some piano wire that was intended to slice his throat. Later, we see a red mark on his neck from that close-call.
  • Blood splatters onto Tom when he shoots a goon.
  • Tom shoots a criminal in the head, killing him. We see the hole in his head as well as the growing pool of blood around him.
  • Tom has a lot of blood (his and others) on him and his clothing. He later washes himself off in a pond out back.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • We see that some thugs have murdered several people in a motel and one of them then shoots and presumably kills a child. They then come into Tom's diner, have bad attitudes, and then threaten to kill Tom and a woman they briefly take hostage.
  • Bobby is a high school kid who constantly emotionally and physically bullies Jack, calling him names and roughing him up. Bobby's friends join in doing the same.
  • Fogaty and his goons harass Tom and his family, ignoring the sheriff's orders that they leave them alone.
  • Tom slaps Jack for a smart aleck remark he makes about how to take care of problems (that exacerbates some tension between the two).
  • Edie lies to the sheriff to protect Tom although she knows that's wrong.
  • Richie makes a comment about marriage saying "You can f*ck around."
  • Richie is a mafioso with criminal gains who kills one of his own men when disappointed in him.
  • Tom lies to Edie about the truth, although it eventually comes out.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • A criminal goes back into the motel where he and his partner have stayed and doesn't react to seeing a dead clerk and a lot of blood on his body/clothing and the adjacent counter. We then see a dead and bloody woman on the floor with a big pool of blood there as well. A child slowly comes out (presumably belonging to one of the victims) and looks scared. The man then readies his gun behind him and then shoots the child, but we don't see the impact (we hear a scream, but it belongs to another child from the subsequent scene).
  • The killers arrive in Tom's diner and demand coffee despite him saying that they're now closed. They get angry and one grabs the waitress, putting his hand over her mouth and running his other hand over her clothed chest and holds a gun on her. The other man then pulls a gun on Tom who smacks a coffee pot to his head, prompting the first to shoot at Tom who grabs the second's gun and shoots the first man several times, causing him to fall back through the front door's large glass panel. The second man then stabs Tom in the foot, but Tom spins and shoots that man in the head (we see a close-up view of that man's very bloody and seemingly now disfigured face).
  • Carl unnerves Tom and Edie when he keeps calling Tom "Joey" and implies that they know each other from their days back in Philly.
  • When Tom sees that Carl and his thugs were scoping out the diner again and then drive off when he comes out, he calls Edie and tells her to find and ready their shotgun. Tom then runs home (on a bad foot) while we see Edie frantically searching for and then loading the shotgun that she nearly shoots Tom with when he races into the house.
  • We see that Carl's car is following Edie to the mall where she then becomes worried when she can't find Sarah. She eventually does outside a store in the mall where she also encounters Carl acting cool as a cucumber but still unnerving her.
  • Bobby pushes Jack backwards in the school hallway and his goon friends then won't let Jack go and are demeaning to him and his female friend. Jack finally loses it and suddenly attacks the bullies, kicking one in the crotch and punching and shoving Bobby back against the lockers where he proceeds to punch and kick him repeatedly on the floor, bloodying him.
  • A mafioso and his goons arrive at Tom's home and he comes out carrying a shotgun to greet them, but they show that they have Jack hostage and will only trade him if Tom leaves with them and returns to Philly. After one holds his gun on Tom, he suddenly attacks them, whacking one guy in the neck, bending an arm behind a back (the arm appears to break), doing more severe/brutal hitting and shooting one several times. One then shoots Tom in the shoulder and then holds his gun on Tom, but the latter manages to shoot him dead, all with very bloody results (on Tom).
  • We see a goon slowly walking up behind Tom with some piano wire that he then tries to wrap around Tom's neck, but the latter catches it just in time with his hands, although they're cut by it (with bloody results) as they're pulled up to his throat. Tom, who's seated, then kicks the desk in front of him to push his chair and assailant over backwards. Once free, Tom delivers severe/brutal blows to various men (including hitting and stomping down on a neck), while shooting others. Several are killed in the brief melee (with bloody results).
  • A criminal shoots and kills his own, injured goon on the floor after the latter botches a murder.
  • A criminal shoots at Tom, who escapes and then grabs another goon, head-butting him. He then shoots a man several times from the floor, killing him.
  • Tom shoots a criminal in the head, killing him. We see the hole in his head as well as the growing pool of blood around him.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Shotguns/Piano wire: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Who the f*ck was that?" "Don't f*cking move," "Stay the f*ck away from my family you sick son of a bitch," "Crazy f*cking Joey," "I can't believe this is f*cking happening," "F*ck you," "You can f*ck around" (sexual), "How do you f*ck that up?" "Think you hot sh*t," "Chickensh*t," "I am so sick of this sh*t," "He don't mean sh*t," "C*cksucking piece of sh*t," "Bullsh*t," "You miserable pr*ck," "Bang" (sexual), "Sucking hard," "Crazy G*ddamn dreams," "Little faggot," "You punk bitch," "Holy cow," "I'm the luckiest son of a bitch alive," "We should go kick his ass," "Shut up, bitch," "Jeez," "Cut the crap," "Before he goes all Dirty Harry on us," "Bitch" (man), "Shut up," "Skank," "Yeah, puss," "What the hell were you thinking?" "Old fart," "I'm pretty pissed at you" and "A hell of a lot."
  • All of the fighting and other stunts might be enticing for some kids to imitate.
  • Bobby and his friend drink from a bottle and drive.
  • Bobby gives the finger to some killers, not realizing who they are.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of ominous and suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 15 "f" words (2 used with "mother" and 1 used sexually as is the term "bang"), 14 "s" words, 2 slang terms using male genitals ("c*cks*cking" and "pr*ck"), 5 asses (3 used with "hole"), 4 S.O.B.s, 2 craps, 2 hells, 1 damn, 6 uses of "G-damn," 4 of "Jesus," 2 each of "Oh God" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "God," "Good Lord" and "Jesus Christ."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Tom jokes to Edie that they can go to the local drive-in and make out later (she says there's no drive-in).
  • We see Jack and other male students shirtless in the locker room following a game.
  • Edie playfully tells Tom that they never got to be teenagers together, adding that she's going to fix that. She then comes out wearing a cheerleader outfit and pulls up her skirt, revealing her panties while acting in a playful sexual manner. She then whips off his belt, pulls off his pants on the bed and jumps on him. They passionately kiss with her on top, straddling him as his shirt's open. He then sits up and then gets on top of her, removes her panties, pulls up her skirt and then has his head down between her legs. She squirms around and makes pleasured sounds, followed by a view of them in the "69" position on their sides (no explicit nudity) and then in a head and shoulders shot of them "spooning" after they're done.
  • Edie smacks Tom and he grabs her by the neck at the bottom of a stairwell. She tries to escape and then kicks him back (down a few stairs), but he grabs her foot, trips and hits her before pinning her to the stairs. Their anger then turns to passion and they passionately kiss as he removes her panties and we see the side of her bare butt as she then works on his pants. We then see him graphically thrusting between her legs and see the top of his bare butt during this. There's more thrusting as well as related sounds, with her then on top of him on the stairs with movement and more sounds. Both then climax and she then gets up and leaves in a huff as he tries to grab out at her. Later, when she walks out wearing a robe, it's open in the front and we see a full frontal nude view of her. Later, we see her sitting nude on the bed (we see her bare back).
  • We see the neon sign outline figure of a reclining buxom woman on the side of a building at night.
  • Richie asks Tom, "Didn't you bang" a certain girl on a bar in the past. Tom says he didn't, with Richie saying he should have as "she was something."
  • Richie makes a comment about marriage saying "You can f*ck around."
  • SMOKING
  • A minor character smokes once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A short order cook states he was married for six years.
  • Jack is concerned after seeing his parents acting frantic and brandishing a shotgun waiting for Carl and his goons.
  • Tom slaps Jack for a smart aleck remark he makes about how to take care of problems (that exacerbates some tension between the two).
  • The various developments, allegations and then character revelations put a strain on Tom and Edie's relationship.
  • Jack is upset with his dad after more character revelations occur.
  • Tom and his brother have some tense moments in their reunion, leading to some deadly violence.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Violence, its portrayal in the media and entertainment, and people's reaction to it.
  • Jack says that their future is to grow up, get jobs, have affairs and become alcoholics.
  • The mafia.
  • Bullies.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A criminal goes back into the motel where he and his partner have stayed and doesn't react to seeing a dead clerk and a lot of blood on his body/clothing and the adjacent counter. We then see a dead and bloody woman on the floor with a big pool of blood there as well. A child slowly comes out (presumably belonging to one of the victims) and looks scared. The man then readies his gun behind him and then shoots the child, but we don't see the impact (we hear a scream, but it belongs to another child from the subsequent scene).
  • Jack catches a pop fly in baseball hit by the school bully, Bobby who has a bad attitude toward him. He calls him various names (including "faggot"), pushes Jack on the back and then shoves him back against the locker where he grabs him by the shirt.
  • The killers arrive in Tom's diner and demand coffee despite him saying that they're now closed. They get angry and one grabs the waitress, putting his hand over her mouth and running his other hand over her clothed chest and holds a gun on her. The other man then pulls a gun on Tom who smacks a coffee pot to his head, prompting the first to shoot at Tom who grabs the second's gun and shoots the first man several times, causing him to fall back through the front door's large glass panel. The second man then stabs Tom in the foot, but Tom spins and shoots that man in the head (we see a close-up view of that man's very bloody and seemingly now disfigured face).
  • Bobby pushes Jack backwards in the school hallway and his goon friends then won't let Jack go and are demeaning to him and his female friend. Jack finally loses it and suddenly attacks the bullies, kicking one in the crotch and punching and shoving Bobby back against the lockers where he proceeds to punch and kick him repeatedly on the floor, bloodying him.
  • Tom slaps Jack for a smart aleck remark he makes about how to take care of problems (that exacerbates some tension between the two).
  • A mafioso and his goons arrive at Tom's home and he comes out carrying a shotgun to greet them, but they show that they have Jack hostage and will only trade him if Tom leaves with them and returns to Philly. After one holds his gun on Tom, he suddenly attacks them, whacking one guy in the neck, bending an arm behind a back (the arm appears to break), doing more severe/brutal hitting and shooting one several times. One then shoots Tom in the shoulder and then holds his gun on Tom, but the latter manages to shoot him dead, all with very bloody results (on Tom).
  • Edie smacks Tom and he grabs her by the neck at the bottom of a stairwell. She tries to escape and then kicks him back (down a few stairs), but he grabs her foot, trips and hits her before pinning her to the stairs. Their anger then turns to passion and two end up having sex there.
  • We see a goon slowly walking up behind Tom with some piano wire that he then tries to wrap around Tom's neck, but the latter catches it just in time with his hands, although they're cut by it (with bloody results) as they're pulled up to his throat. Tom, who's seated, then kicks the desk in front of him to push his chair and assailant over backwards. Once free, Tom delivers severe/brutal blows to various men (including hitting and stomping down on a neck), while shooting others. Several are killed in the brief melee (with bloody results).
  • A criminal shoots and kills his own, injured goon on the floor after the latter botches a murder.
  • A criminal shoots at Tom who escapes and then grabs another goon, head-butting him. He then shoots a man several times from the floor, killing him.
  • Tom shoots a criminal in the head, killing him. We see the hole in his head as well as the growing pool of blood around him.



  • Reviewed August 26, 2005 / Posted September 23, 2005

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