August 30, 2015

A Most Violent Year

JC Chandor, 2014

Chandors follow-up to 2013’s great / under-rated All is Lost is a New York Crime drama starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. The two of them are enough to get any cinephile on board. Isaac stars as Abel Morales, a successful business owner that runs a lucrative fuel-oil delivery business but has fallen victim to a lot hijackings of his vehicles. While the pressure builds for him to make changes to reduce the risk of his delivery-men in the field, he is focusing all of his energy into pooling together the funds to close on a neighboring property that would allow him to expand his operation.

The film could be considered a mild character study in the sense that you find yourself trying to get a read on Abel throughout the film. His actions are perplexing at times. He is very ego-driven, not so consumed with the money so much because he has enough of that. He seems to be another character completely focused on power, making that step to the next level. He is not very willing to let anything get in the way, even if it involves putting his employees and family at risk. His stubbornness becomes very frustrating in the story. You can feel the pressure mounting through the story while he stands back in his brown trench-coat staring at the walls thinking.

For a film to be called “A Most Violent Year” and have it be based on the most crime-filled year in the Big Apple, you would actually expect the film to be more violent. A more fitting name for the film would probably be a “A Most Non-Violent Movie”. Not that you NEED violence to fuel a film, but the rather unhurried rhythm of the film never really picks up and maintains that pace throughout the entire 125 minute running time. There isn’t a lot of chemistry between Isaac and Chastain. At times the script even feels quite weak. To the film’s credit it tries to explore some different avenues in the New York crime category by focusing on an entrepreneur rather than a group of gangsters, but it is ultimately too fruitless. Unfortunately Chandor’s followup to the great All is Lost is A Most Unmemorable film.

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