This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Simon Ramshaw’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Woah...that was a stunner. I went into this knowing very little other than what my parents have said (Dad: "It made me feel physically sick!"), and have come out very, very pleasantly surprised.
Having seen three Cronenberg films previously (The Fly, which was quality, Videodrome, which was weird, and Cosmopolis, which was...I don't know!), I was surprised at how different this was. Gone is the body horror, the dark humour, the initial WTFness. In stays the weird sex, identity crisis and bursts of shocking violence, but this is a more mature Cronenberg; someone who's actually human.
And, boy, does it show. Here we have an understandable story, almost relatable and empathetic, but at the same time shocking and disturbing. Viggo Mortensen tops his performance in the Road (the best piece of acting I seen him do before this), making a multi-sided portrait of a man who doesn't where he stands, even if it is always on the edge. He's matched by Ed Harris' smirking, one-eyed 'villain', who really does need more screen-time. Most surprisingly though, Maria Bello shows off some serious talent, only showing how the mighty have fallen (*cough* Mummy 3 *cough*).
Faultlessly appropriate writing from Josh Olson is the icing on the cake, easing us in from the mild-mannered attitude of the little American town to the gritty honesty of the criminal underworld. It's a masterful screenplay, and Cronenberg senses something new, and seizes it with both hands.
If I have one complaint about this, it has to be Howard Shore's repetitive, over-emotive score. It's a tad too similar to his work on Lord of the Rings, and is almost identical in a number of scenes. It just seems hopelessly out of place here.
But it's a pretty minor gripe considering the sheer power of this film. Only 30 minutes after viewing, I can tell this is going to be one that sticks in the memory for a long, long time. Now, Cronenberg, get your hands on some more crime...