A Most Violent Year – Movie Review
A Most Violent Year – R
Release Date: Fri 16 Jan 2015
Writer/Director J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year tells the story of Abel (Oscar Isaac) trying to expand the business he bought from his somewhat crooked father-in-law in the midst of a series of truck hijackings. His wife Anne (Jessica Chastain) is supportive, but also has some of the instincts of the organized crime that seems just below the surface of their everyday life. Meanwhile, the district attorney (David Oyelowo) is investigating everyone in the industry for wrongdoing, coming after Abel at the exact wrong time.
Are Abel and Anne doing something illegal or criminal? Probably. What’s most interesting about the story in A Most Violent Year is how achingly real the business crisis feels. This isn’t a mafia movie with murder and constant bloodshed. It’s more of a ticking clock where Abel is trying desperately to do the right thing under the circumstances. His workers are threatened and beat up, his trucks are stolen, his competitors claim not to be culpable and the city government claims to just be treating him like everyone else.
Throughout the first act of the movie, it keeps looking like Abel will be forced to do something drastic such as let his drivers carry guns. It soon becomes clear that everyone but him is willing to bend the rules. There is certainly an easier way to get what he wants, and he doesn’t get a perfect situation for his trouble – but he takes the road that feels right to him.
A Most Violent Year is a thinking man’s crime drama that is less about gangsters (and violence) and more about what growing your business really entails. Balancing the demands of your work force and your family and dealing with the restrictions from competitors and the government feels brutally real. The consequences do too. It’s a very well made movie with great performances from Isaac, Chastain and the rest of the cast.
Hannah and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car: