A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
With Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo
Written & Directed by J. C. Chandor
Set in New York in 1981, the focal character of this film is Abel Morales, an immigrant businessman whose heating oil transport company is under constant attack from hijackers (stealing and reselling the contents of the tanker trucks). He is in the midst of a crucial land sale on the riverside which includes storage tanks that will boost his business immensely.
The increasing loss of cargo and the bank pulling out of the sale could ruin him, and his staff is getting frustrated, not able to fight back (at his behest). His wife's family is mob connected, but he refuses to go that route, wanting to do everything above board. But with the cops unable to stop the hijacking, rivals and even friends not to be trusted, the prosecutor deciding to investigate his company for corruption, a driver involved in a shoot-out (after employees illegally arm themselves for self-defense, against his wishes), and the land sale about to fall through (his substantial deposit set to be lost), how much longer can Abel hold on to do things legally during the most violent year in New York's history?
With a tough wife not making things easier, Abel's stress sees no end, his trip through hell leaving him desperate to keep his head above water.
Many may expect a high-octane gangster style movie, but while this has some adrenaline moments, it is more about the people, morality and perserverence.
The '70s / '80s cross-over period is well captured and replicated.
An intriguing film with bursts of tension and action, but the sparseness of these in favour of personal exposition and emotional character construction, leads to a less than energetic pace. However, it remains worth watching.
4 / C
- Paul Blom
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