The only reason I decided to watch this movie are my acting favorites starring in it, Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac. I had no other expectations from him, nor did I find out about the action beforehand. Sometimes it can be a good thing, but I’m afraid not in this case. Plus, the title is just a moot point, but more on that in the review that follows.
The plot of this film takes place in New York, in 1981, when the number of criminal acts in the history of that city was on the rise. The central character of the story is the immigrant Abel Morales (Isaac), married to the attractive Ana (Chestein) with whom he has two daughters. He is trying to expand his difficult start-up business and become a more respected businessman, but more and more violence from competitors, as well as corruption, threatens to destroy everything he has created so far, and all this is quite devastating for his family.
I’ll start with the title, A Most Violent Year. That title was supposed to metaphorically present the essence, the essence of the film, but in my opinion it was done very unsuccessfully. The course of the film is too slow all the time, uninteresting to the point of pain at certain moments. Action crime drama? Drama yes, but the action doesn’t talk about it. Although, around the 50th minute of the film, the action starts to get better, in terms of action, but it also stops. I would like to draw a parallel with The Drop, as they have similarly set premises, but in The Drop the culmination is surprising for many viewers, and in this film we follow events all the time that do not get any final form / meaning.
I understand that the director of this film, a certain J.C. Chandor, probably wanted to present it as a very serious crime drama, but other serious crime dramas also have a meaning that crystallized in the end. That is not the case here. I don’t know much about this director, I watched Margin Call (2011) and I really liked that film, but when I put all three projects he’s shot so far together, some things are clearer to me. He also directed All Is Lost with Robert Redford from 2013 who is also very hard to watch and follow.
He affirmed himself more as a screenwriter, and he also wrote the screenplay for this film, so this is essentially his complete work. He probably wanted to look like the final product like this, creating and affirming himself as a special author through this project, but in my subjective judgment he failed. And Most Violent Year is simply not interesting enough to keep the viewer’s attention, and it lasts 125 minutes.
Not to be bad, I will praise the acting of the main protagonists, especially those who are not taken seriously enough, Oscar Isaac, an actor who discovers with each new project that he can do much more. In this film, he somehow acted out a version of the honest Michael Corleone and he really did very well in the role. On the other hand, Chestein is very attractive, sexy and convincing, but underused, she appears too little in the film. I will also mention David Oyelowo, who is a new hope, and also appears as the main role in the Oscar-winning film Selma.
If you want to watch a good and interesting action crime drama, this movie is NOT. This is more of a psychological study of a character who, with his inner turmoil, can make you quite tired, as was the case with me. I hope that there will still be someone who will point out to me more positive aspects of the film that I may have missed. I really hope I’m wrong, that the film is not as slowly sterile without any significance, as my impression is.