Friday, January 16, 2015
A Most Violent Year
The story is set in New York City in 1981. Neatly dressed Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) runs a successful heating oil company that he inherited from his wife Anna's (Jessica Chastain) late gangster father. However, Abel is not a gangster, and he refuses to be one despite that his oil trucks are constantly robbed by thugs lately and he is under scrutiny by the assistant DA Lawrence (David Oyelowo) for fraud and tax evasion, which Abel categorically denies.
With an ambitious business plan in mind, accompanied by his low-key lawyer Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks), Abel puts down all he has for the down payment to purchase an oil holding facility from its Jewish owner. When his banker backs off from him due to the problems he is facing, Abel has little time left to close the deal and save his business.
J.C. Chandor surely knows the art of telling a compelling story: special effects and big explosion don't necessarily win the audience over, but well-written and finely acted characters certainly take root with the audience. Almost every role in this film, big or small, has a unique and mesmerizing personality. He never wastes a single scene and completely captivates his audience with his story from the beginning to the end.
Oscar Isaac terrifically plays immaculate Abel who strikingly resembles Al Pacino in "The Godfather: Part II" (1974). He hardly raises his voice and never loses his cool. He always speaks eloquently with reasoning and confidence. He believes that he can win relying on his intelligence and his earnest hard working, instead of violence and mafia activities.
Unlike many films that treat female characters as a prop on a movie set, J.C. Chandor presents us a delightful character Anna. She is not only somebody who loves and supports Abel, but also is tough and smart. Jessica Chastain's superb performance makes Ann even more alive. You will never forget how she hits a calculator with a giant pencil before the era of personal computers.
Just like how Abel trains his employees how to make a sale, by making this film, J.C. Chandor gazes his audience right into the eyes saying: "if I tell another story in a new film, you better come to see it." We will.