Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria)
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#2 Maria Bello & Viggo Mortensen
Marriage can do terrible damage to the libido for the less imaginative of couples. The humdrum of life subtly taking over, missionary being the only option on the menu, or perhaps the kinkier of couples introducing a new friend, rubber or otherwise to their sex play. Thankfully, our two lovers in ‘A History of Violence' don't have this problem. Forget your two position sexcapade, or schoolgirl fantasy. All you need here is a significant other with a checkered past and there you have it: sex just got interesting.
We have two very contrasting sex scenes in this film. The first, a very loving moment between husband and wife which provides some context later. The second sexual visit is unrelenting, violent and caused a bit of a stir upon the film's release. Both Mortensen and Bello perform in both scenes perfectly as husband and wife Edie and Tom/Joey Stall, and they do so with chutzpah! Any actor that can carry out an explicit scene well, closed set or not, forever has my respect and attention. Both displays in ‘A History of Violence' had something, at the time of viewing I hadn't quite seen before in cinema, certainly not in a mainstream movie and hearing some shocked whispers around me at the time of viewing, it appears I was not the only one.
Our first intimate scene begins with Edie and Tom in their bedroom. Edie, wanting to fix the problem of not knowing her husband in their teenage years emerges from their en-suite in a cheerleaders outfit, coquettishly lifting the tiny skirt to show Tom some blazing white, lace knickers. While Tom is still coming to terms with the outfit, Edie roughly rips his belt from his pants and pushes him on the bed enjoying her sexual prowess and momentary domination. While she whispers "we have to be quiet, my parents will hear us", Tom has what can only be described as a very grateful look. She straddles him, they kiss and he declares her a ‘hottie'. She is. Things heat up further as we see Tom lift her skirt, remove her underwear slowly and perform oral sex on her. It's quite an erotic moment, her eyes half closed and hands running through his hair. Quite soon she's eager to please him back, and they both engage in the sexiest of numbers. They execute a 69 with finesse and far from the blunders of teenage experience, which is likely similar to a naughty game of tangle twister. This first scene shows Tom overwhelmed by his wife's idea of role play and gives us an insight into their sexual relationship which is so far gentle, respectful, loving and dare I say it, a little boring.
Our second sexual visit with the married pair is altogether different. Tom's violent past now revealed and Edie, enraged by the revelation and the turmoil he has caused in her family, breaks from an embrace after a trying visit from the local Sheriff. Tom in pursuit, grabs Edies' arm, attempting to calm her down. She responds with an open palm stinging slap across his face. She further angers him by exclaiming a poisonous "FUCK YOU JOEY" referring to his past criminal life. As she dashes up the stairs, Tom grabs her ankle, forcing her to fall, she hits him again quite hard and Tom (or at this point Joey) pins her down on the staircase, hands around her throat moving himself between her legs and restricting her from escape. There is a madness in his eyes and intent to harm. For a split second we think he will rape her. Edies' eyes widening in fear, giving credence to that notion. However, Tom emerges from the madness, removes his grip from Edie's throat and has a look of disbelief on his face.
As soon as the ‘Joey' persona drops, we see Edie then grab his head towards her and kisses him, no longer in fear of him. Tom/Joey responds in kind, greedily pawing at her and sharply pulling down her underwear without managing to take them off. A far cry from his gentle, deft movements when he was so loving with his cheerleader in our earlier scene. Edie is also grabbing at his belt, the urgency of their union is palpable. Shallow short breaths are heard as he finally manages to penetrate her in this rather uncomfortable position on a staircase. They fuck each other furiously and without mercy, satisfying both their anger while enjoying that part of marriage that they are still in touch with. 30/35 violent thrusts later (yes, I counted) our angry lovers are spent. Kissing and softly caressing each other for the briefest of moments, until Edie pushes Tom off her, a look of disgust on her face, and retreats alone up the stairs.
I have heard too often this scene being described as rape. It has the potential to be just that of course, before we watch the violent personality of Joey retreat, and he becomes Tom again. However, for me, it is a fascinating view into sex at its most ambiguous. How after such a violent event the only solace Edie could find was to furiously fuck and control that which she had completely lost, her husband Tom. It also deals with the notion of ‘rape fantasy' how it is possible that the violence he showed instead might have been the driving force in her making that decision to pull Tom towards her and hopefully carry out what he originally intended. Regardless of this scenes actual intent, both Mortensen and Bello are explosive here, the chemistry between them is credible and it made for some very interesting viewing.
8/10 – for making secret pasts sexy
Intense from start to finish.
The dialogue and shots are nearly verbatim the graphic novel, but the intrigue and suspense are all because of great pace and direction.
A History of Violence has had it's aspects when it comes to body horror by David Cronenberg which does not have anything to do with body horror. It's based on the graphic novel. So when I had heard about A History of Violence, I've heard that it's going to be violent and yeah, I was right. It had some violent scenes that are bloody and will keep you on a big impact. Viggo Mortensen plays an diner owner, Tom Stall, who lives with his wife and kids in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana. One night, two robbers attempt to rob the restaurant but Tom saves the day by killing them in self-defense. After this, Tom is at hospital while the news went worldwide making him a hero. Then the next day, Carl Fogarty played by Ed Harris visits Tom in the diner calling him Joey Cusack who Tom says he's never been to Philadelphia so now Fogarty stalks the Stall family and he'll kill him if he doesn't come back to Philadelphia with him. When it comes to David Cronenberg when he is known for making body horror flicks about changing bodies, this one is not about that. Actually, that reminds me. I saw a deleted scene which is known as "Scene 44" for some bizarre reason which features a dream sequence in the diner, where Fogarty tells Tom he will kill him and his family which leads him to kill him with a shotgun and then he shoots back. While the director was amused by the idea he then rejects by leaving it out of the movie. I enjoyed this film even if it's not your typical film by David Cronenberg. I like the acting in this which is something that grabbed your attention. Viggo Mortenson and the other cast did good. Viggo's character is a regular guy who used to kill people back in Philadephia and now goes on with his life and doesn't want his wife and kids to know about his past. He's a great character who knows what he's doing and living his normal life. William Hurt is also great in this but he's only in the film for eight minutes considering that he was nominated for an Academy Award. And the ending just leaves you in emotion where it's all silent when Tom returns home. If you haven't heard of this movie or won't understand what it is about then I suggest you check it out and then you will understand it. Give it a try.
Worked for me very well.
Amazing exploration into the question of nature vs nurture! Great performances all around, highlighted by William Hurt's entrance later in the film.
The best gangster movie ever made!
It's good but could have been so much better. I wish they had dragged out the question of whether he's Joey or not (and made it scarier). And I didn't like the way this guy was superman and killing everyone in situations where he's a lone wolf (except for his son saving him once). Viggo is an amazing actor and did a great job with a poor/ok script. The tension when debating if he was Joey was palpable and very fun to watch.
Beautifully crafted movie.
Excellent movie. No better way to describe it.