A History of Violence
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Tom Stall is living a happy and quiet life with his lawyer wife and their two children in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana, but one night their idyllic existence is shattered when Tom foils a vicious attempted robbery in his diner. Sensing danger, he takes action and saves his customers and friends in the self-defense killings of two-sought-after criminals. Heralded as a hero, Tom's life is changed overnight, attracting a national media circus, which forces him into the spotlight. Uncomfortable with his newfound celebrity, Tom tries to return to the normalcy of his ordinary life only… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The less you know about this movie before seeing it -- and you really should see it -- the better."
‑ Christy Lemire, Associated Press
"A remarkably convincing examination of heroism, hero worship, and the seductive allure of villainy."
‑ Ken Tucker, New York Magazine/Vulture
"A fascinating exercise in cinematic restraint resulting in a captivating, not to be missed film."
‑ Jeffrey Lyles, Lyles' Movie Files
"While it weakens in its final stretch...A History of Violence succeeds enormously thanks to the strength of its direction and performances."
‑ Jay Antani, Cinema Writer
"Impeccable formal control to match audacity is mandatory, and Cronenberg provides it"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"Cronenberg's direction, mirroring the split in Tom, is alternately measured and frighteningly explosive, and, as always, he gives the movie a nasty underlay of sexual perversity."
‑ David Denby, New Yorker
"A model of clean, lean storytelling."
‑ Steve Murray, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"With A History Of Violence, Cronenberg uses the pulp gangster genre - as opposed to, say, sci-fi horror -- to draw us into a dialogue on our relationship as voyeurs to violence, both real and cinematic."
‑ Luke Goodsell, Empire Magazine Australasia
"A truly entertaining and engrossing study of violence, family, and our pasts eventually coming back to haunt us..."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"The movie begins slowly, methodically, and builds increasingly toward a devastating climax."
‑ John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
"This peculiarly predictable picture has been calculated, or miscalculated, to set up certain expectations, fulfill them, and then do the same thing again, thereby giving us a chance to see what's coming and, at least in theory, be shocked."
‑ Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"Though this is certainly Cronenberg's most 'mainstream' movie in years, the fact that it's so immediately enjoyable as a terrific thriller does not diminish its less obvious virtues."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Without conceding any of his iconoclastic vision, Cronenberg has turned a genre film with classic Western overtones into a gripping psychological drama that examines the duality of man and his infatuation with the art of violence."
‑ Jeff Meyers, Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
"The violence that enters the characters' perfect domestic existence is permanent, and each act reveals truths about the people who use it and the audience who enjoys it."
‑ Radheyan Simonpillai, AskMen.com
"It's one of the better dramas of the year so far -- even if at times it feels like an artistic genius is painting by numbers."
‑ Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons
More reviews for A History of Violence on Rotten Tomatoes

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