A History of Violence

(Cert 18)
Thu 16 Mar 2006 20.19 EST

A gripping, sombre tale set in a small town, David Cronenberg's film is like nothing else in his long career.

Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello are parents in humdrum occupations. He runs a diner. One day, two murderous thugs try to hold up the place. He shoots them and becomes a reluctant local hero. A few days later, more hoods turn up. One of them, Ed Harris, looking terrifying in shades, a black suit and a damaged face, claims to recognise Mortensen's character from the Philadelphia mob. To take the plot any further wouldn't be fair.

The acting is outstanding with Mortensen and Bello creating an unusually lived-in relationship, and William Hurt is a revelation, completely against type as Mortensen's brother. It's about trust, as much as violence and I hope it doesn't disappear like Cronenberg's shockingly underrated last film, Spider.

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