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10/2/2005
Film Review: "A History of Violence"

Today we saw a film about love. "A History of Violence" may be one of the most realistic and beautiful depictions of love between a husband and a wife that I've ever seen. And to think, some people are calling it a film about "America," or "rural suburbia," or worse, a film about "violence."

It is none of those things. It is about marriage, and about love. It is about the very essence of love, the secret reward promised for the very serious risks involved in reluctantly revealing that which we prefer to keep hidden; the part that true love unconditionally accepts no matter how hideous, or reprehensible, or disfiguring, or damaging it may be. That is what this film is about.

"And maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
Well it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah,"

goes the Jeff Buckley addition to the Leonard Cohen song, "Hallelujah," itself one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.

Although the screenplay for "A History of Violence" was adapted from a graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, I would like to think the graphic novel may have been adapted from the Leonard Cohen song, because having seen the film, that song is all I can think about.

Love is violent; looking for it even more so. That is why we talk about broken hearts, shattered dreams, destroyed relationships. Have you ever tried falling in love? Might as well try and get the hiccups. I remember mistaking romance for love; two different things, not mutually exclusive, mind you, just different. Talk about crossing thresholds? The traditional first step toward marriage consummation? "A History of Violence" is about crossing the threshold of the threshold. Romance is easy to depict in film, and in life, but true love? Not so easy. If you value true love, I hope you go see this film.