Review – A Most Violent Year


Oscar Isaac stars in this 2014 business / crime thriller set in 1981’s New York, directed by J.C. Chandor (whose two previous directing roles of Margin Call and All is Lost, are both worthy of viewing). The film centres on Abel Morales (Isaacs) and his wife (Jessica Chastain).

We find Morales, an upcoming owner of an fuel company, taking on a deal for a new site for his company in New York, at a time when business competition is rife in the city. His trucks are being targeted for thefts, drivers assaulted and salesmen being attacked. Those committing these crimes are unknown and the deal he is attempting to close is only making him more of a target.

a-most-violent-year.jpgTo add to his struggles, an investigation by an Assistant District Attorney (David Oleyowo) into potential criminal activities by his company, is underway.

Isaac delivers a compelling performance as the man suffering to try and build his business honestly whilst facing challenges from all sides, from people willing to break the law. A man who when facing the opportunity to close the biggest deal of his career finds his morals pushed to the limits.

Chastain too stands out as the wife whose background is less honest than Isaac now aspires to, and operates with a strength that her husband sometimes lacks. For the role, Chastain received a number of nominations for Best Supporting Actress.


Mention should also be given to Albert Brooks who stars as the lawyer of Morales as the investigations take place, and David Oyelowo.

I can’t help but think that the title of this film cost them slightly here as when I’ve mentioned this to people in the past they seem to quickly imagine some uber violent drama, which this most certainly isn’t. Whilst there are moments of violence in this film, it is the drama and the conflicted characters that this film is about.

The film may not be a fast paced thriller, but it is clever, it is skilfully executed, it features strong performances from the leads, and holds interest throughout.

It’s really worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

8 Oil Trucks out of 10

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