Reel Toronto: A History of Violence
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Reel Toronto: A History of Violence

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
Truthfully, this bad-ass Cronenberg flick is a bit more of a Reel GTA than a Reel Toronto, per se. But enough of it was filmed in and around the city that we’re happy to justify watching a good film for a change.

If you’ve seen the flick you know that most of it takes place in a quaint rural town—we’ll get back to that in a second—but at the end of the flick, Viggo Mortensen’s character drives into what is supposed to be a seedy section of Philadelphia.
As he gets closer to town he drives on stretches of road, like this section of Meadowvale…
…before finally getting out of his car on Queen East
…and approaching Stoopy’s Tavern, which we’ve seen in flicks like Cocktail and The Ref.
The interior is used often as something of a dive bar (no offense, Stoopy!).
Earlier in the flick the small-town hero spends a little time in the hospital. It’s not out in the sticks, but rather the bucolic St. John’s Rehab hospital up at Bayview and Cummer.
As for that quaint town, most of it was shot in Millbrook, Ontario, in a lovely valley near Peterborough. Apparently they didn’t want to change any signs since, as you can see by the post office here, they kept the Millbrook, but pretended it was in Indiana.
This is the main street, including the exterior of Mortensen’s diner.
The interior, however, is a very meticulously recreated set.
Zipping all over the GTA, they staged this baseball scene at this diamond in Pottageville. What, you don’t know where Pottageville is? It’s actually not that far, up in King.
This great mall scene, where Ed Harris scares the bejeesus out of Maria Bello, was shot at a real mini-mall in Tottenham.
Finally, we get to the grand finale featuring a super-awesome William Hurt. The shots are really too dark to make out much but his mansion-lined street is Park Lane Circle, in the fashionable Bridle Path area.
The interior is merely a set, but the grand exterior is at Eaton Hall, which is Lady Eaton’s old digs, now part of the Seneca College campus in King City. You can see the lovely kettle lake on the Oak Ridges Moraine here.
Perhaps the secret to a good Toronto film is to spend a little time shooting in the ‘burbs?

CORRECTIONS: JANUARY 12, 2010 This article, when first published, originally misidentified the location of this shot as Dundas East rather than Queen East, and misspelled actress Maria Bello’s name as “Maria Bellow.”