Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Channeling Gene Siskel

A History of Violence

I went to this movie to see Viggo Mortenson and Ed Harris, a couple of actors who are a joy to watch—they “bring it” to whatever roles they play.

And they didn’t disappoint.

Mortenson took his trademark reticence to another place. Watching him, I ask myself, ‘How many facial muscles can a guy have to show different looks of indecisive discontent?’ His face seems

made for such moments. Real sculptor material.

Harris came as advertised in the previews and was just a great villain. Really juicy and a bad bad dude. From Philly. ~~shudder~~

Sadly he didn’t have enough screen time for us to really savor the character a bit more.

Alas, poor Ed. We hardly knew ye!

The whole movie clocked in at a crisp 1:40 or so. Had Harris been in every scene, we might still have felt cheated for such an abbreviated picture.

Abbreviated is the word because this movie fairly flew along to the conclusion with nary a transition between acts. I am not altogether certain there was a third act.

And in that I found my greatest dissatisfaction in the film. The writer poses all kinds of great questions--

"How do we resolve the historical events of our lives against our desire for the future?"

"Can a person really change?"

"What qualities of love enable it to surmount devastating revelations?"

"What drives pacifists to violence?"

"When someone resorts to the final violence, what happens to them inside? How do they change, what parts are lost?"

But they all go unanswered. Whether happily or sadly resolved, the exploration of these themes would have made this a worthwhile film.

In the end, we can appreciate the parts if not the whole.

Harris is a shooting star.

Couples (with kids) can enjoy the lascivious empty-house moment between two forty-something parents.

William Hurt tickles as ‘Richey’.

If you are in the mood to just be with these characters, then this movie has some nice memories you can take away - and it ain't like you're investing 2hours30 of your life.

Be prepared for violence, as the title suggests, but if you don’t have to have the 3-act structure to enjoy this little picture, maybe you can get past the brutality too.


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