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‘A Most Violent Year’ review: no Michael Corleone



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Brilliantly acted by it's entire cast but Isaac and especially Chastain are acting on high-level. Perfect slow-burning pace totally focused on human behaviour. Wonderful costume design and cinematography.



Posted 16/02/2015 by

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From the moment you see Oscar Isaac in it’s camel colored topper and it being a crime drama you can’t help but compare A Most Violent Year with Francis Ford Coppola’s crime epos. But A Most Violent Year is everything what the Godfather was not and maybe should have been. A Most Violent Year is a slow-burning compelling crime story about a man that tries to be clean i na very dirty industry. The Approach of JC Chandor has a pacifying effect, it’s clever, enthralling and intelligent. On the surface Chandor makes it look like a film where The Godfather seemed a great inspiration, but in fact it exposes the weaknesses of Coppola’s cosa nostra masterpiece.


What makes Chandor’s movies so intrigueing and why – if you want to make the comparison with The Godfather – makes A Most Violent Year the better movie it’s the way Chandor focuses on society and how we act in that society. Human behaviour makes up for a very interesting but complex perspective. He places it in an economic dramatic setting that is even more vulnerable to tension. Chandor is no stranger when it comes to an in depth dog eat dog capitalisation set up but it never capitalized in such a positive devastating fashion as in A Most Violent Year. 1981 is also a perfect setting for Chandor to go big when it comes to production design, art direction and costume design. And he does.


Oscar Isaac plays Abel Morales, a hard working immigrant trying to make a living and make a name for hisself in the oil industry. At first glance, Morales seems to be the stereotypical crime boss and here is where JC Chandor comes in. Morales is trying to survive in a crime vulnerable business. It’s fascinating to see a persevere Morales give it his all to keep his head above water. The premise gets even more interesting because his wife Anna – beautifully rendered by an amazing Jessica Chastain – and daughter of a crime boss. She thinks Abel is weak for not taking the desperate measures which these desperate times ask for. But she loves her husband dearly, and takes her own precautions. The cast is completed with stellar performances of Albert Brooks and David Oyelowo.


JC Chandor handles it’s slow-burning paced A Most Violent Year wonderfully well. It serves it’s narrative directive from prologue to epilogue and Chandor never feels like he has to speed it up to keep the attention of the viewer. And he really doesn’t. The cinematography of Bradford Young (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is breathtaking, joyless and dreary making the times of a 1981 New York where crime is at it’s highest so palpable. Alex Ebert’s music is atmospheric and Kasia Walicka-Maimone’s costume design is exquisite. From Chastain’s sexy plunging necklines to the Michael Corleonesque camel topper of Isaac.


A Most Violent Year is a tangible slow-burning drama where realistic human behaviour is it’s trump card. Not very accessible and i understand why the critics love it and the audience is pretty much divided. However, A Most Violent year is unique, enthralling and has a very interesting angle on the thematics it works on. Chandor demands effort from the viewer, so if you are able to do that, you will have a modern-day crime masterpiece on your hands.

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Breaking through cinema one movie at a time. Aesthetics above all, Antonioni, Malick & Godard are the G.O.A.T.s. I have a gargantuan soft spot for Vanessa Hudgens. Benoit Debie = THE cinematographer. Don't make war, make art.