Re: RARA-AVIS: A History of Violence

Date: 10 Oct 2005

Although I don't think it quite pulled off the weighty social commentary it seemed to shoot for (pun intended, of course), I really enjoyed the movie, A History of Violence. In fact, I thought it was better than the graphic novel it was based upon.

I re-read the book a week or so before seeing the movie. I enjoyed it, as I had when I read it when it first came out, and thought it would make a great movie. I like Cronenberg and looked forward to seeing what he'd do with a more naturalistic/realistic story (no bugs).

The film made some interesting changes. The first half was roughly the same as the book's first third, although it went deeper into character and the effect of the violence and its aftermath upon them, especially the son, who really wasn't much more than a child to be protected in the book. I was especially impressed with Maria Bello's expanded role as the wife finding out she may not know her longtime husband nearly as well as she thought.

The movie pretty much jettisoned the second, flashback, third of the book, only hinting at a very different backstory, with relatively innocent characters becoming far less pure. The second half of the movie was almost entirely different. This is the section that tries to raise some big questions about viewers finding violence cathartic and whether or not people (especially once bad people) can be redeemed or whether we ultimately revert to our "true" characters. As I said, I don't feel the film quite carries off the weighty ideas it raises (the later violence isn't quite as hard to cheer as they seem to intend it to be), but I give it big points for raising them. More importantly, the message never gets in the way of a good story.


ps -- also interesting that they change the gangsters names from being Italian, and they're from Philadelphia, not Brooklyn.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 10 Oct 2005 EDT