A History of Violence

Russian Roulette
September 17, 2007

"I am driver," explains Viggo Mortensen early in David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises. "I go left. I go right. I go straight ahead. That's it." In fact, moviegoers should be pleased to know that the moral maneuvers undertaken by Mortensen's character, a low-level hood in London's Russian underworld, are considerably more interesting than advertised: swerves, veers, dips, even a u-turn or two. In structural terms, the protagonist of the film is a midwife played by Naomi Watts.

Uncertainty Principle
March 22, 2006

Violence is scary. Violence is sexy. Violence is wrong. Violence is righteous. Violence is a problem. Violence is the solution. Befitting its title, David Cronenberg's film A History of Violence comprises all these definitions and more. Just released on video, the film opens with a pulpy paean to small-town murderousness, as two drifters check out of a dusty, rural motel. The air of lazy depravity is palpable; bad acts are hinted at--"I had a little trouble with the maid," one man tells the other--before they are revealed.