RATING: 4/ 5
DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
From the opening scene there is a sense of threat that is beneath the surface. There is no film score or opening soundtrack of music. We hear the natural sounds contained in the scene and watch as two men exit a cheap motel. One goes back inside to pay and comes out again. The other then goes in to fill some water up to ready themselves on their journey. There is anticipation and suspense building, something is not quite right. As the whole scene take place director David Cronenberg’s camera does something interesting. The camera never cuts. The scene is shot in one shot. It is that which creates a lengthy anticipation and vibe of weariness. This scene sets how we are to prepare our minds for the rest of the film. Appearance is one thing but what is behind that maybe more significant.
Mortensen plays Tom Stall, a small town diner owner who is the everyman. He knows his community well, and they know him. When the two local crooks come in when the shop is shutting, Stall hesitates but can read the situation well. The crooks become threatening and the nice everyman Stall takes charge of the situation violently becoming a smalltown hero. He becomes headline news sold as a hero. His wife Edie ( Bello) tries to support him but bigger things are at work. A shady character in Fogarty (Harris) comes into town convinced that Stall is a Philly thug called Joey. While tension is building between these characters, Stall’s son Jack (Holmes) is struggling with bullies at school and has to make choices there.
When is violence justified? You may ask that after watching this film, one may even say by watching it, we are encouraging violence. How far is one willing to go to protect a family? The film also asks the viewer to ponder if a person can move beyond his past or is he trapped?
I enjoy this film because rewatching it creates uneasiness and becomes confrontational. Perhaps it is a film applicable now more than before with what is happening in current events. How long is violence accepted as a way out?
Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall
Maria Bello as Edie Stall
Ashton Holmes as Jack Stall
Ed Harris as Carl Fogarty
William Hurt as Richie Cussack