A Most Violent Year

"Extraordinary"

A Most Violent Year Review


With this confident drama, J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) continues to evolve as a filmmaker, giving the mob movie a remarkably thoughtful twist with vivid characters and situations. This film holds us in a vice-grip, cleverly squeezing in on the characters and the audience with both emotional and moral dilemmas. And Oscar Isaac delivers yet another superbly textured performance, this time as a man trying desperately to remain outside the criminal world.

The title refers to 1981, when the crime rate in New York was at an all-time high. Abel (Isaac) has built his heating-oil company into a real contender, but has refused to indulge in the dodgy dealings of his competitors. Which has been difficult since he's married to Anna (Jessica Chastain), daughter of a notorious gangster. Then just as Abel takes out a loan to expand his business even further, he's hit by an indictment from the DA (David Oyelowo), which jeopardises the bank's loyalty. Meanwhile, his rivals' goons are hijacking his tanker-trucks and threatening his family. Although his chief competitor (Alessandro Nivola) denies this. And as things squeeze in on Abel and his lawyer (Albert Brooks), Anna urges them to take illegal action to get things back on track. After all, that's how business works in 1981 New York.

Isaac is utterly magnetic as Abel, a man who rejects the corruption and violence everyone else accepts as part of life. His interaction with an especially feisty Chastain is steely and riveting, as is his relationship with his young protege Julian (Elyes Gabel), a terrified hijacked driver whose storyline takes some surprising turns, some of which are a little obvious. All of the acting in the film is contained and bristling with emotion, giving the characters remarkable layers of texture that make them unusually believable and often startlingly easy to identify with.

And then there are the issues the story is dealing with, including the idea that resorting to violence to fight violence will only make an already unstable situation much worse. Aside from one breathless chase sequence, Chandor keeps the film steady and gripping, churning up the audience with powerful themes and encounters. Most remarkable is that he never moralises about these people. Abel isn't seen as a man who heroically resists crime; he's just trying to do the right thing in a murky world. So the film's ultimate punch relates to how even the smallest decisions we make both reflect our character and plot our course ahead.

A Most Violent Year Trailer

 



A Most Violent Year

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th January 2015

Distributed by: A24

Production compaines: FilmNation Entertainment, Before the Door Pictures, Washington Square Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: J.C. Chandor

Producer: Neal Dodson,

Starring: as Abel Morales, as Anna Morales, as Andrew Walsh, as Julian, as Lawrence, as Peter Forente, as Luisa

Also starring: ,

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