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A Most Violent Year (2014)

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In New York City 1981, an ambitious immigrant fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city's history.

Director:

J.C. Chandor

Writer:

J.C. Chandor
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Popularity
3,176 ( 136)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 15 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Oscar Isaac ... Abel Morales
Elyes Gabel ... Julian
Jessica Chastain ... Anna Morales
Lorna Pruce ... Toll Booth Attendant
Christopher Abbott ... Louis Servidio
Matthew Maher ... John Dominczyk
Albert Brooks ... Andrew Walsh
Jerry Adler ... Joseph Mendelsohn
Quinn Meyers ... Moishe Mendelsohn
Chester Jones III ... Beat Cop (as Chester Jones)
David Oyelowo ... D.A. Lawrence
Ashley Williams ... Deputy Lange
Glenn Fleshler ... Arnold Kline
Jimmy Palumbo ... Barber Jimmy O.
Daisy Tahan ... Annie Morales
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Storyline

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 Production

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The result is never in question, just the path you take to get there. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

30 January 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jc3 See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$188,000, 2 January 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,749,134, 26 April 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Message in closing credits:

Camera assistant Sarah Jones died tragically on another set while this film was in production. The filmmakers would like to acknowledge the importance of safe working practices when making movies. We are grateful to our entire crew for their professionalism and careful preparation www.SafetyforSarah.com See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Anna Morales: I told you. I wasn't gonna continue to stand around and let these people come and get me and my children. Unlike you, who seems to be completely comfortable just standing around like some fucking pussy, I decided to do something about it.
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Connections

Referenced in Film 2017: Episode #44.2 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Me and the Blues
Written & Performed by Ray Bryant
Courtesy of Concord Music Group, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Supremely Interesting Story Highlights Sleeper Hit Of 2014
21 August 2015 | by andy-66447See all my reviews

J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year takes place in 1981 New York City – the year New York suffered more murders than in any other. Without knowing a thing about A Most Violent Year, I looked forward to a police procedural or a mafia thriller, dealing with the homicidal apex to the desperation of the recession of 1980. But I was wrong. Very wrong.

Oscar Isaac plays Abel Morales, owner of a New York fuel oil company, in the midst of purchasing property along the East River which would position his company as a major player in the regional fuel oil market. Simultaneously, a rival firm is attacking Morales' truck drivers and stealing their fuel. Morales' wife, Anna, is descended from a mafia family, and she offers their assistance. But Abel Morales is a good and decent businessman, and he resists. At first. As the driver attacks amplify, Morales' salesmen and even his family are soon targeted by the rival businessmen. Meanwhile, an assistant district attorney, played by David Oyelowo of "Selma," is investigating corruption in the local fuel oil industry, including Morales' firm. And the deal to purchase the East River property becomes dubious when his bank backs out of financing it. All this is set against the backdrop of the 1981 New York murders. The murders themselves are not the story, but we hear about them anytime one of the characters turns on a radio.

Now this set-up may sound like a glorified TV movie, but A Most Violent Year is so much more. As the tension in Morales' life builds, director Chandor draws us into the story the way Martin Scorsese does. We find ourselves pulling for an honest businessman in an increasingly dishonest world. We wonder how long it will take until he involves his wife's mafia family – or worse, takes matters into his own hands. This could be a story about one man's downward spiral, but with a resolution that will surprise and delight you. And you'll love the thrill ride along the way – culminating in a chase scene through the bowels of New York's subway and rail systems. It's as riveting as Gene Hackman's chase scene in The French Connection.

The performances are top-notch, beginning with relative newcomer Oscar Isaac in the lead role. A year ago, he played a folk singer in the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, a small, above-average picture which got buried in the onslaught of excellent films released at the end of 2013. Isaac really shines here. He should have received a Best Actor nod, but I'm sure his day is coming. Coincidentally, Isaac is slated to appear in the new Star Wars picture, which hits theatres next fall.

Jessica Chastain is also excellent as Morales' wife – a decent-hearted lady who wishes her husband were a little more daring in his business dealings. Her character is more than the standard "wife" character we've seen many times before. She's intimately involved in the business, and she's not afraid to stand up to adversaries. An almost unidentifiable Albert Brooks plays Morales' lawyer Andrew, again intimately involved in the business, but more than just the "straight man" character we've seen before. And I love how Chandor's script allows us to become acquainted with various characters in Morales' life and in his business – a truck driver and his wife, a salesman, the teamster boss who pushes for Morales to arm his drivers, a couple of Morales' business competitors, and so forth. Each character is well-drawn, and serves an important role in this supremely interesting story.

I also like the look of this picture. It's a bit of a modern-day film noir, cast in dimly-lit interiors, with characters who speak in hushed tones about important matters, occasionally bursting into the sunny yet unpredictable and unnerving outside world.

The only thing I didn't like about A Most Violent Year is its title. Much as the 1987 film Dirty Dancing had nothing to do with pole dancers at strip clubs, A Most Violent Year has nothing to do with violence, per se. In fact, I don't really understand what necessitated placing the story in 1981. The fact that New York's murder rate peaked that year is immaterial to the story.

A Most Violent Year is going to be a sleeper amongst Oscar contenders like Birdman, Selma, The Theory Of Everything, and others. But it's well worth a look. They don't make movies like this much anymore, and I'm glad J.C. Chandor has. It's one of this year's best films.


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