A Most Violent Year Review

Posted 7 years ago by myetvmedia

A Most Violent Year is everything you want in a film; brutal,dark, gritty and so richly shot that it completely engulfs you in the aura of New York City in the early 80’s. Writer/Director J.C Chandor (Margin Call) uses 1981 as the backdrop for his story; a year which Chandor learned was statistically the most violent in New York City’s history (And we’re all having that “aha” moment with the title, amiright?) You’ll show up for Jessica Chastain’s blond bob and gangster ‘tude but you’ll stay for a skillfully maneuvered plot and a tension that simmers on low in an oh-so-satisfying way.

Oscar Isaac delivers one of the most gripping and nuanced roles of his career as Abel Morales, the immigrant turned truck driver who becomes boss of an oil heating company. Morales is trying to navigate a corrupt system where oil industry tycoons function like stereotypical mobsters. They live in fortified ‘McMansions’ and are in the midst of a violent, all stakes turf war. Exploring the idea of “how far would you go for business” Morales tries to keep his hands clean while navigating the dirty business that engulfed the oil Industry in the 80’s. Morales finds himself in a position to purchase a piece of waterfront property that would make his company the most powerful in New York but the move puts him in a position of great risk. Violence and turf wars erupt, he finds his workers are getting mugged regularly. In response his competitors turn a blind eye to the increasing violence, while pointing fingers at each other. Morales finds all of this is nothing to the pressure from his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain) who wants him to ‘take care of it’. Anna is no stranger to settling things by whatever means necessary. She was raised by a father who was a gangster in Brooklyn and when she finds a gun in the bushes at their family home she ominously threatens “Do something about it or I’ll get involved and you won’t like what I do”. At this point I couldn’t help think it would be a satisfying conclusion to allow Chastain to go further into the darkness her character hints at not-so-subtly.

A memorable and savoury scene came early on in the movie as Morales talks a new batch of sales associates through the perfect sales pitch which is more of a psychology lesson than customer service. “Keep eye contact for longer than feels comfortable; ask for tea instead of coffee (the classier option); etiquette is everything”. “We’re never going to be the cheapest,” he advises, “so we have to be the best” he continues “so we have to show that we too want the best.”

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A Most Violent Year Review

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