A Most Violent Year
Cert: 15 / 125 mins / Dir. J.C. Chandor / Trailer
A far more nuanced film than the title would suggest, A Most Violent Year is a certainly performance-based piece, rather than narratively. That's not to say that the story's lacking at all, but it's certainly pretty linear, with the escalation of events riding a steady, upward curve throughout.
Oscar Isaac channels his best Frankie Valli as Abel Morales, a legitimate businessman trying to expand a domestic heating oil company in New York in 1981, and whose competitors are somewhat less scrupulous when it comes to what they see as professional rivals. A little like the second-act of Scarface but with less blow and more admin, the film is beautifully shot, even if it feels like the Instagram Earlybird filter is turned up full-belt for the whole two hours. Isaac isn't alone of course, and the dramatic weight is shared by Jessica Chastain giving a performance full of barely restrained fury.
Despite setting the mood perfectly, it can feel like the narrative's holding something back, even during its infrequent moments of promised violence. The escalation of the events in the story is a little linear, but I give it a pass for Chastain and Isaac alone, notwithstanding a strong supporting cast headed by David Oyelowo. Isaac seems to flourish more in vintage or period roles than he does in modern ones, and I'll be interested to see what he brings to Poe Dameron in December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where the setting will be undeniably otherworldly, but with director JJ Abrams' retro-aesthetic applied to the saga.
Quietly enjoyable if a little underwhelming on the dramatic front, is A Most Violent Year a story which needed telling?
Not particularly, but it's a gorgeous looking and fluidly told one nonetheless.
Perhaps not. Orange Wednesday or Cheap Tuesday for this one.
It's probably a buy-er, but once it comes down to about a fiver.
I'd say it's up there, certainly, but I also think there's better to come from the central cast.
It probably does.
Oscar Isaac will appear in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while David Oyelowo is the voice of Agent Kallus in Star Wars Rebels.
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