Watching A History of Violence is an exercise in patience that is rewarded with some terrific performances. Surprisingly, a big part of that is unexpected talent from Lord of the Rings vet Viggo Mortensen. I've seen him in miscellaneous movies, but usually in throw-away roles requiring zero acting ability. This time around he turns in a carefully crafted performance of measured subtlety that salvages an otherwise predictable film.
Oh yeah... there's also nifty left-field roles for Ed Harris (spooky!) and William Hurt (12 shades of crazy!).
As the title suggests, there are moments of gross-out violence that are only partially gratuitous. I suppose you could argue they are necessary to put the characters into context, but I'm not quite convinced. I thought the movie Crash had more to say, but A History of Violence is still noteworthy. The story revolves around an apparently meek and mild diner owner who has a shocking and violent run-in with armed robbers. Once he becomes a local hero things start to escalate out of control. The plot-holes and completely unrealistic ending aside, it's worth a look when it hits video.
Speaking of violence... people who can't shut the f#@% up during a movie shouldn't go to movies in the first place. One of these days I'm going to be sitting in front of a rude talker and they're going to end up DEAD DEAD DEAD!! If I would have killed the dumbass, I wonder if he could appreciate the irony of dying during a film with "violence" in the title? I sincerely doubt it.