Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Let me make something clear to you and Mr Mulligan

A History of Violence
The graphic novel - V - The Cronenberg film

The graphic novel featuring: Lots of violent, vaguely disturbing imagery

The film starring: Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, William Hurt, An inexplicably-naked-for-a-second Maria Bello

The Gist: Average Joe Small Town (no, that’s not a new reality show on ABC, that’s Farmer Wants a Wife or something) has some gun-crazy lunatics come into his diner and threaten to kill up the place. He responds by going all Jason Bourne on them and putting bullets in their faces. This plays out pretty much the same way in both the film and the graphic novel but from that point on they choose their own paths. Which one you like better will depend on a number of factors because…

And then what happens?: The graphic novel is all about pulpy, creative violence while the film has it’s own agenda. Possibly about modern gender relations, or family values or something. In that regard there are some real problems with it. They set up the wife character as being pretty together and ballsy for most of it, but then have her turn all bla and weak once things go really wrong. And then there’s the completely gratuitous full frontal nude shot. She comes out of the bathroom without her robe fully closed and then walks away. The end. What’s that all about? I think the extended Naked Viggo Mortensen Plus Knife scene in Eastern Promises was Cronenberg’s way of redressing the balance somewhat. Meanwhile the wife character in the graphic novel is unflappable and even gets a good surprise kill in. They give that to the son in the movie version. Hey women, Hollywood called, it says you’re useless. Now take off your clothes.

Read it for: The ending is quite gasp-intensive. I watched the film to see if they could possibly have the nerve to really go for it but alas twas not to be.

See it for: The part where the son finally snaps and slaps up the school bully. Vicarious thrills for anyone who ever met an asshole.

Level of Crazy: 10 for the novel, 7 for the film. Both worth a look, though you might not want to read it on a crowded train like I did...

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