We went out to see A Most Violent Year last night, directed by J.C. Chandor with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. I think this one was just released around here, but it apparently is a 2014 film. The fact that this excellent film failed to score any Oscar nods says more about awards institutions that about this movie.
The film is set in 1981, a violent year in NYC. It’s about a couple who are in the fuel oil business, attempting to buy a significant property which will help their business grow. The backdrop is that the business is corrupt and there are various levels of corruption among the competitors. Somebody is highjacking our protagonists’ oil trucks and there is significant pressure on them to arm the drivers. Meanwhile the District Attorney is set to indict on 14 charges. They are guilty, but feel they are following standard industry practices. The female lead is the daughter of a crime boss, but the male lead wants wants to avoid being a gangster.
This film is about a tainted American dream. The character of Abel prides himself on his ideals but operates in a world in which ideals are almost always compromised. In fact he is willing to compromise his own ideals as well – faced with limited options.
I loved the drab colours and the ordinariness of the industrial scenes. Action sequences are filmed without music and with a generous dose of real-life awkwardness. I also loved the tension between the Abel and Anna characters – a compelling sexual tension complicated by Abel’s idealism and Anna’s pragmatism.
Excellent film. Go see this one!