Title: A Most Violent Year
MPAA Rating: R
Director: J.C. Chandor
Starring: Oscar Isaacs, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelwo
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
What It Is: As the poster indicates we are in New York City in the winter of 1981 and Abel Morales (Isaacs) is trying to take his business to the next level. To get that done he has to close the deal on a very important piece of property, property that could make his company the biggest in it’s game. Sadly there’s a lot going against him. For one winter 1981 was one of the worst in regards to violent crime in New York City, and that is affecting Abel’s business in a negative way. This has his wife Anna (Chastain) on edge and fearing for their safety, and following a series of robberies the safety of every driver in his employ. To top all this off he doesn’t know how he is going to muster up all the dough to finish this deal.
What We Think: This is a fantastic script with world-beating performances. Chastain and Isaacs carry this thing and J.C. Chandor has a keen eye for the time period we’re dealing with. His previous films were completely different Margin Call was a modern political thriller of sorts, and All Is Lost was an intimate story of one man’s battle against the sea. A Most Violent Year may find it’s biggest hurdle is its title. The film contains violence as is the norm but it does not go overboard with it. Violence is only used to move the plot along. What is apparent is corruption, and more specifically just how different Abel’s philosophy is from other in his business or even that of his own wife Anna.
Our Grade: A-, Unfortunately I caught this film on the way out so it looks like a lot of people will have to wait for DVD/ BluRay, but when it does hit it should be on your list. If not for the performances then simply for the story which though a familiar one features enough intriguing ebb and flow to keep you gripped the whole way through. Isaacs just completely sells Abel as a man of great conviction, one who is unflinching in his resolve. Chastain is sass on top of sass and she creates a woman not to be crossed, one who is in control of not only her family, but her entire situation.