A Most Violent Year
While the cast and crew do admirable work, the script and pacing render this movie a near miss rather than the solid outing it could've been. Considering the talent on hand, that's a bit of a shame. The film is a shining example of art direction, and one that boasts a firecracker cast with the likes of Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks and Jessica Chastain. Set in New York in 1981, it certainly has the look of early '80s Manhattan—I lived half an hour outside of Manhattan at the time, so I know—it's just not a crack example of storytelling. Writer-director J.C. Chandor (All is Lost) takes a slow-burn look at the life of Abel Morales (Isaac), a fuel company owner trying to grow bigger in the face of lawsuits and constant criminal attacks on his truck drivers. The film opens with one driver (Elyes Gabel) getting hijacked outside an NYC tollbooth, and he suffers through a vicious beating. His story becomes one of the threads that run throughout the movie. I've watched the film twice, and it simply doesn't stand up well on a second viewing. Despite how real it looks, and some credible moments and performances, the film ultimately comes up a little dull and implausible.