Box art for A History Of Violence

A History Of Violence

action & adventure, thrillers


An average family is thrust into the spotlight after the father (Viggo Mortensen) commits a seemingly self-defense murder at his diner.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    87%
  • Audience Score
    76%

common sense

NOT FOR KIDS 0
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
Language
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Sex
5 out of 5
Violence
5 out of 5

Complex examination of violence; not for kids.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is not for kids. It features brutal, deft violence (based on a graphic novel, the film's title is indicative of its focus). It opens with a scene showing dead, bloody bodies (after the murders take place), then shows frequent violent acts, including bone-cracking martial arts, hand-to-hand fighting (one character has his nose pushed through his skull), shooting, knifing, and strangling. It also includes fairly explicit sexual material (including passionate kissing, a cunnilingus scene, and a frankly rough intercourse scene on a stairway). Characters curse frequently, smoke, drink, and do drugs.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the way violence destroys families in the film. Not only does Tom's current family come to distrust him once he kills the men in the diner and is identified as a former gangster, but also, his relationship with his brother, premised on violent macho codes, can only end badly. How does the movie suggest that violence is "hereditary"? How is also not so much "genetic" (as Jack's transformation when he stands up to the bullies seems as metaphorical as it is literal), but more culturally conditioned? How does the movie critique media (movies, tv news) as they celebrate violence as a means to masculine identity?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Mr. Cronenberg has imbued his narrative with a style of personal conviction that is found in only the greatest auteurs.

- Andrew Sarris, New York Observer, Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fresh: It's rare to find a filmmaker who can deliver such a message and keep us riveted every minute of screen time. But Cronenberg manages it, making A History of Violence one of his best, and most realistic, films ever.

- Bill Muller, Arizona Republic, Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fresh: In A History of Violence, director David Cronenberg's delirious wow of a movie about violence and sex and the American dream, cinema regains all its original power to shock and surprise.

- Bruce Newman, San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, September 29, 2005

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Viggo :)

- ScoopOnline, Tuesday, December 1, 2009

4 stars

Blood, sweat and bullets. This modern film-noir from David Cronenberg one of the best he has ever made. It has acting that just will not get any better than here. Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and Ed Harris are truly remarkable and rest of the cast does equally good work. A History of Violence is kinda film that keeps dropping surprises as it goes along. What at first seems like a family-drama suddenly turns into a brutal thriller and from there it develops into one of the most original Film-Noirs ever made. But actually this is a piece of art that cannot be categorizied. It is a film that everybody should see.

- emilkakko, Saturday, January 7, 2012

4 stars

Blood, sweat and bullets. This modern film-noir from David Cronenberg one of the best he has ever made. It has acting that just will not get any better than here. Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and Ed Harris are truly remarkable and rest of the cast does equally good work. A History of Violence is kinda film that keeps dropping surprises as it goes along. What at first seems like a family-drama suddenly turns into a brutal thriller and from there it develops into one of the most original Film-Noirs ever made. But actually this is a piece of art that cannot be categorizied. It is a film that everybody should see.

- emilkakko, Saturday, January 7, 2012