A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
I was completely rapt by the austerity and dread of David Cronenberg's A History of Violence - for the first five minutes. In the film's beautifully sustained opening sequence, we watch as two men - one middle-aged, in a black suit, and another, younger and sporting a T-shirt and jeans - exit their motel room. They load up their car, and the older gentleman drops off the room key while the other - slowly, slowly - pulls the car up to meet him. Moments later, the older man returns, having had, he says, "a little trouble with the maid." But before they leave, they need water. The younger man enters the motel office to replenish their supply, and as he does, we finally see the image that Cronenberg has thus far denied us, and that we in the audience have properly anticipated - the motel manager and maid lying dead in pools of blood. A frightened little girl, gently stroking the hair of her doll, enters the scene and makes eye contact with the younger killer. And the man, smiling gently, tells her not to be afraid, slowly aims his revolver at the girl's head, and fires.