Cognition & Reality

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A History Of Nothing

Filed under: Film — drtone @ 10:51 am
Tags: ,

Watched “A History of Violence” (2005) last night. It has some great people in it, including Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, and the production values couldn’t be higher, with beautiful indoor and outdoor cinematography and great colors. The director, David Cronenberg, has done some good stuff. It has a 7.6 rating on IMDB, which is quite high. That’s the good news. It’s a pretty terrible movie, featuring three or four violent set pieces and that’s about all, short-circuiting the family drama that could be at its core. One question is, “Why is it so bad?” Another question is, “Why has it been so well-liked?”

The short answer to the first question is that there is no story, but that raises the deeper question, which is why there is no story. Shouldn’t Cronenberg, who is old enough and smart enough, know better? I suspect that part of the answer is that it’s based on a graphic novel, and graphic novels inevitably emphasize the “graphic,” depending on darkness and violence to carry them.

Demographics give no answer to the second question. “A History of Violence” has scored well in every audience category, nixing my first hypothesis, which is that it was hugely popular with males in the 18 to 45 bracket, and not so popular with women and older viewers. Although there is a drop-off among the latter groups, it’s not much. Perhaps I’m applying obsolete standards to cinema story, and movies nowadaze don’t have to be about anything. In some instances, it’s easy to understand how that could be true because there is a class of movies that depend more or less solely on explosions and other forms of violence for their appeal. “A History of Violence” does not at first appear to be that shallow, but then it’s based on a comic book…

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