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A History of Violence

Mark Kermode has excellent taste and some really insightful opinions about films. He has said repeatedly in his film reviews (excellent podcast) that David Kronenberg's latest film, A History of Violence, is a work of genius and is the film of the year. So I went to see it. (To be honest, I would have gone to see it anyway, because I love David Kronenberg films. There's not much better than seeing Videodrome for the first time.)

You've probably guessed already that I didn't like the film. Dr Kermode says it's a film about our relationship with violence, including the media glamourisation of violence - and during the first half of the film, yes, it's exactly that. There's a disturbing friction between the Tarantino-style gangster world and a very homely small-town America world, making you feel quite viscerally what would happen if the violence of the former intruded onto ordinary lives (which of course in real life it does; gangsters don't just kill each other). But the film descends disappontingly into the genre it's supposed to be a critique of, and doesn't offer any hope of escape.

I really hope that no-one would say "Ahhhh, but that's exactly the point it's making, the violence becomes ironic" or whatever. Because whether or not the violence is ironic on an intellectual level, on a direct level (as someone watching the film and seeing events unfold) there's no irony involved in the feelings that are bound to be evoked by people running around trying to kill each other.

Besides which, the irony is the same moral cloak that covers Tarantino's films' violence. Some reviews have also talked about the uncomfortable humour in some of the violence, but again, it's the same type and level of uncomfortable humour that comes with films like Lock, Stock and the rest.

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