A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year


New York City, 1981.

Oscar-nominated writer-director J.C. Chandor (All is Lost) delivers this crime drama set in '80s New York, starring Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Albert Brooks (Drive). In 1981, what would statistically end up being one of the city's most violent years, an immigrant and his family attempt to grow a business amidst a world looking to drag them into the dark and rampant NYC underbelly.

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Flicks Review

Writer-director J C Chandor’s third feature may well be the poster child of the critic versus audience dilemma. There is no question that this is a qualitatively good film, stylistically strong and tonally gritty, reveling in the 1981 New York City setting. The cast is outstanding, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain devouring the lead roles while the likes of Albert Brooks and David Oyelowo give scenery-eating performances in supporting roles. Yet this is the sort of movie that leaves people hating critics.... More

Isaac plays Abel Morales, a self-made heating oil tycoon. Morales attempts to bring competition to a deeply corrupt industry, facing regular violent opposition and the temptation to bend, if not break, his own fierce ethical code as he attempts to close a deal that will make or break him.

For all its intense quality it is not actually intense, despite the immensity of skill on display this is not a big film. Rather, A Most Violent Year is neither great escapism nor captivating exploration. This film seems to exist only to show off, not as an actual show, and it is very hard to recommend as anything other than an exhibition piece.

With his previous films – Margin Call and All Is Lost – Chandon wrapped immense skill in big storytelling. With A Most Violent Year, the story is the only thing that doesn’t shine.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 2 ratings, 2 reviews
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BY dimleigh wannabe

Of course as with many films, my driving force to see this particular film, was all due to Jessica Chastain being the supporting lead. Overall, this film directed by J.C Chandor, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, isn't the greatest crime drama/thriller you will ever see, but it isn't the worst either. The film moves at a very slow pace - bordering on the line of complete boredom. It is packed to the brim with dark moody settings, suspense, and of course violent action. Oscar Isaac gave... More a great performance, and of course the same is said for Jessica Chastain. Other than these two outstanding acts, nothing more can really be raved about. A slight disappointment.Hide

J.C. Chandor follows up Margin Call and All is Lost with a high tension character study in crime. At its heart are superb performances, with Jessica Chastain simply brilliant, and Oscar Isaac at his unlikable, unempathetic best.

With a cracking script and tight direction, this is a slow burn, dramatic morality tale of the highest order. If you enjoyed Killing Them Softly, another slow, slow burn thriller, you'll likely dig the delights on display during A Most Violent Year.

The Press Reviews

89% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • It brings to mind the fierce New York-based productions of Sidney Lumet in particular but also the whole notion of character-driven, the-clock-is-ticking melodramas in general. Full Review

  • Presents an honorable man struggling to stay true to his values in the face of temptation. It is also the portrait of a brilliant hustler working a very long con. It's a terrific movie either way. Full Review

  • Further clarifies what might be the most promising career in American movies: an urban-headed filmmaker attuned to economies of place and time, with an eye on the vacant throne of Sidney Lumet. Full Review

  • Rigorous, resourceful and as smart as a whip. Full Review

  • Chandor peels back the layers of his story and characters with the skill of an expert dramatist. Full Review

  • Stylish, sophisticated, simmering crime and character drama with Shakespearean dimension and bravura performances. Full Review

  • Chandor’s film suggests more than it can explore, and a contrived climax makes the film seem like less than the sum of what’s preceded it. Full Review