A Most Violent Year (J. C. Chandor, 2014)

J. C. Chandor’s crime drama A Most Violent Year is a well produced piece of cinema that tells an interesting story in a solid manner. However, after sitting through over two hours of its mid-paced plot development, it failed to wow me.

The film stars Oscar Isaac as Abel Morales, the hard-working owner of Standard Oil, and Jessica Chastain as Abel’s wife Anna, with supporting roles from Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Elyes Gabel and Catalina Sandino Moreno. It covers a short but crucial period in Abel’s career as he battles against police and corruption to pull of a deal that will see his small company become a big player in 1981 New York’s oil and gas buying and selling industry.

Isaac looks uncannily like a young Al Pacino in his lead performance, and that may accidentally be to the film’s detriment. Essentially, what we aren’t going to get from this quite understated film is a shot of Isaac gunning down thugs and gangsters from a pile of bank notes and drugs, although the tone of the film could easily have ramped up to this had they wanted to go there. It’s a serious story that didn’t need to fall into some over-the-top cliches, and the film is better for it.

That said, when you’re watching such a long film you’d want slightly more to the plot than a seemingly nice but hard-working guy trying to pull off a financial transaction by going around and asking a few people nicely if they could lend him the money. It is executed very well, but the final product is a little underwhelming.

A Most Violent Year is out at cinemas now.

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