Karyn and I watched "A History of Violence" last night, and we both didn't like it. The story was contrived and formulaic. It played like an old B Western, with the dastardly bad guys and the pure good guys. Director David Cronenberg's attempts to show us a loving family were hackneyed and hamfisted. In the beginning of the film, when the little girl wakes up from a nightmare, the entire family, including the teenage son, gather around to console her. Ugh. The next scene? The family gathered around the breakfast table, while the dad pours orange juice from a glass pitcher. Ugh. Soon after, the main character strolls down the main drag of Anytown, USA, greeting all the locals by name. Ugh. The son gets picked on in school by a bully that makes Biff from "Back to the Future" look like Hamlet. The movie was filled with these one-dimensional tropes straight out of screenwriting 101. Where is the complexity and subtlety? The film does move well, though, in its middle third. The central conceit of the film is strong. But anytime Cronenberg attempts to show an emotion, he dips into the cliche bag for a closeup, a trite line of dialog, and some flute music to underscore that "HERE IS AN EMOTION--DON'T MISS IT." The only way he could have been less subtle is if he had subtitled it. Here is a review that says it much better than I do.