A Most Violent Year
It is the winter of 1981 in New York City and statistically, one of the most violent years on record.
Abel Morales( Oscar Issac) is an ambitious young family man who owns a home oil heating company that is competing with several rival companies to be the best in the city.
He has the opportunity to buy a vacant fuel terminal that would expand his business and give him a strong edge on the competition. With his trusted lawyer (Albert Brooks) helping him through, he puts a large down payment on the property and has 30 days to come up with the $1.5 million balance. If he doesn’t he will lose his deposit and his company will collapse.
At the same time he is being investigated by the Assistant District Attorney, Lawrence (David Oyelowo), who seems determined that his company (and his competitors) are committing illegal business activities. And to add to his stress, his trucks are being hijacked and his salesman are being violently beat up.
Abel tries to find out who (which one of his rivals) is behind the attacks as he struggles to come up with the funds for the property all while trying to prove that he runs a clean, legit operation.
Although this film has shades of the godfather, this is not your typical gangster movie. Many times during the film Abel is open with the fact that he is anti-mobster and his actions and words back that up. Despite the title, it is not a violent movie. At times the story runs a little slow but it is powerfully told and the strong characters make up for it.
Abel’s wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) is the daughter of a Brooklyn mobster. She is strong willed and has different views on how they should be handling the crimes being committed against them. She is all for “an eye for and eye” and tells Abel “You’re not gonna like what’ll happen once I get involved.” Her husband wants nothing to do with violence and believes compromise is the key to resolving things. The couple’s marriage is strong and believably normal. The relationship is tested several times throughout the film and comes through with flying colours.
Directed by J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year is beautifully filmed in muted, yellow-coloured tans and browns as though made on location in 1981, the cinematography sets the tone quite well.
Overall this a wonderfully scripted story about both marriage and business. The film proves you don’t need gory gunfights and execution style murders to make a good mobster flick.
See the rest of my review at Tribute.com