A crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.Written by
The kitchen, where they tell the baby sitter to go home, is not at all consistent with the supposed "mansion", they live in. Several other interior scenes appear to be shot in a different location, home or perhaps, set. See more »
He's Pacino without the edge. One of best crime thrillers in years.
It's 1981 NYC, and it's not American Hustle. A Most Violent Year is set in the most brutal year in the city's history, when Mayor Koch and the DA would not like it to be so. While Hustle sets the scene with humor and style, Violent is happy to understate lawlessness and concentrate on the dialogue, which has undercurrents of corruption in each syllable.
Oscar Isaac plays immigrant, oil delivery company owner, Abel Morales, with an Al-Pacino veneer that goes low key, not Godfather or Scarface operatic. His double-breasted suits and ever-present camel overcoat suggest the smooth, verbal, charismatic, but unassuming business owner who wants to be as straight as his wardrobe. It's a difficult ideal because someone is hijacking his oil trucks and selling the oil on the black market.
What to do? His wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), beautiful but born to a crime family, is at times more ready to deal with the sabotage in a traditional mob way than her husband is. But Morales deals with it in a civilized, diplomatic way that of course makes him and his employees vulnerable to the rude, irrational hoodlums.
Director J.C. Chandor knows minimalist dialogue, apparent in his All is Lost, where Robert Redford gives out with one line but an Oscar worthy performance anyway. Much more dialogue here, still minimal, but it has the David Mamet attention to the power of each word.
In a world Sidney Lumet depicted quite well, everyone has a brush with lawlessness, from truck drivers to cops to politicians—no one is exempt, except maybe Morales, who tries to do the "best right" thing in the face of pressure to use violence as the tried-and-true technique. That's why this is such a sweet action, crime drama: You can identify with the protagonist and not be bogged down by gratuitous violence.
This is one of the best action-crime dramas in years. Isaac is Pacino without his edginess; Chandor's dialogue is soft Mamet, a welcome substitute for rude bullets. Indeed, while the film is titled A Most Violent Year, it is not the most violent movie. Leave that to Martin Scorsese.
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