3/4

A Most Violent Year [2014] ★★★

most-violent-year-smallWho doesn’t love a good crime drama? “A Most Violent Year”, a potent, propulsive film written and directed by  J.C. Chandor (the underrated “Margin Call“, “All Is Lost”) is exactly that and more. Oscar Isaac is dynamite as Abel Morales, an immigrant out to live the American dream in 1981 New York. He is the owner of a heating-oil company and unlike many businessmen in the city, he wants to play things legit. But his competitors won’t let him. Working from a taut script, director J.C Chandor makes every brutal, bracing minute count as Abel tries to maintain control of his business, his enemies, his family and wife (played by Jessica Chastain). Isaac, an actor of uncommon versatility, from “The Two Faces of January” to his terrific performance in “Inside Llewyn Davis”, takes a slowburn approach to his deceptively quiet role. He’s a time bomb primed to explode. You can’t take your eyes off him. And though “A Most Violent Year” covers familiar ground, it simmers with charged emotions. Just like Isaac’s performance, the movie holds you in its grip. It’s definitely one of the most rewarding crime dramas I’ve seen in a very long time.

Rating: 3/4

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