Review: A Most Violent Year

Follow up to Margin Call is a moody character study of entrepreneur Abel Morales

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR written and directed by J.C. Chandor, with Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Alessandro Nivola and Albert Brooks. An Elevation Pictures release. 124 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (January 30). Rating: NNNN

Where to watch: Netflix, iTunes

J.C. Chandor’s follow-up to Margin Call and All Is Lost is a moody character study of Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), an entrepreneur who spends a month in the winter of 1981 trying to put his heating-oil business on a solid financial footing. There’s only one problem: someone keeps hijacking his trucks in broad daylight.

Chandor uses Abel’s predicament as a window on the corruption and lawlessness of pre-comeback New York City. The film bears comparison to Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon and Prince Of The City for its sense of place and time, and to Coppola’s first Godfather for its depiction of a man who places himself at a moral crossroads in defence of his family.

I do not make these comparisons lightly. Neither does Chandor, who deliberately styles Isaac as a doppelgänger for the young Michael Corleone. Jessica Chastain, however, gets to do her own ferocious thing as Abel’s wife, Anna, defining her character’s prickly impatience with the first word she utters on screen.

Win a soundtrack to the film here!

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