#REVIEW: “A MOST VIOLENT YEAR”
If you haven’t already died from the agonizing wait, A Most Violent Year finally gets its release here in Canada after wowing audiences and Critics alike south of the Border in limited release. Much dependent on the phenomenal work of tough-luck Actor (don’t even get us started about last year’s glaring namesake snub) Oscar Isaac, this latest effort from Writer/Director JC Chandor (Margin Call) is set in New York amidst the City’s historically violent, crime-riddled year, 1981. Centering on remarkably-driven immigrant Gas Entrepreneur Abel (Isaac) and his Wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), whose Business is threatened as their Staff growingly are being attacked, with their transport vehicles being hijacked, resulting in monetary losses in the hundreds of thousands. Abel aspires to acquire an unassuming piece of real estate which would be vital to the expansion of his business, risking all his savings with 30 days to secure the funds required to close the coveted sale.
Determined to walk the right path amidst times of moral struggle and not retaliate in the wake of violence, Abel faces serious allegations of corrupt business practices. We find his morals tested to the absolute limit as he tries to uncover himself – without the support of a suspicious justice system – who might be responsible for the sabotage of his Business and everything which both he and Anna have worked for.
What makes A Most Violent Year so brilliant, aside from flawless performances, is Chandor‘s ability to capture with perfection that lingering element of uncertainty and danger throughout. We feel a great sense of the Era’s authenticity down to every detail from costuming, to Abel‘s front door and never for a moment do we feel safe from harm in fearful times for the Big Apple. Everyone is hustling and everyone is shady in their own right. The Film is unique in that there is no clear-cut Villain, but more so we are hyper-aware of the obstacles: time, money and the unknown. The Film becomes so intense it becomes painful to stomach at times as we become so fully enthralled in this superb storytelling.
Isaac is phenomenal and his icy-calmness plays against the worrisome backdrop to great effect. He is mysterious and despite his commitment to doing right, we cannot help but beneath there is something horribly dark he is concealing; this makes his Abel incredibly captivating. Chastain‘s star is ever-luminous with a performance that places her at the forefront of the Supporting Actress race. We get occasional flashes of fire from her, giving her Anna much dimension and depth, a fire which only can be subdued by Abel’s calm.
Our only regret is not seeing this sooner. Elevation Pictures release A MOST VIOLENT YEAR on Friday, January 23, 2015 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, while expanding across Canada on Friday, January 30, 2015.