That’s the world of A Most Violent Year – director J.C. Chandor’s latest atmospheric film. Chandor last brought audiences “All is Lost”, which had one word of dialogue. His latest film bristles with dialogue. What all of Chandor’s films share are a sense of time and place, and indelible performances. Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Albert Brooks, David Oyelowo, and others really shine in this movie. Isaac plays Abel, the owner of a heating oil supply company, who’s dealing with a number of forces conspiring against him. Chastain plays his wifed – a smart, tough “cookie” who’s the daughter of a mobster who previously owned the company. Abel’s character brings to mind Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” – although they differ because Michael comes to embrace violence and Abel prides himself on staying above the fray.
The plot of the movie does have some unexplained twists – we never really understand why Abel’s company is the target of violence and there’s a throwaway regarding Abel’s brother, which seems like it’s going to go into Abel’s family and goes nowhere. But overall the movie is a great vehicle for stellar ensemble acting and a character study of a marriage between two polar opposites who through lust and a shared vision of theirfuture make it work. AFW
Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes