Review: A Most Violent Year

Put your hands in the air if you's a taut thriller

Chastain!
Chastain!

In the somewhat erroneously named A Most Violent Year—it’s actually one month at the end of said year, which is 1981—Oscar Isaac is Abel Morales, who owns a modest but expanding fuel operation in New York City. Married to a gangster’s daughter (2014 MVP Jessica Chastain, all ice blonde and hard Rs), it’s important to Abel that he remain above-board, even as his competitors rob his trucks and beat up his drivers. (He won’t arm them.) He’s got 30 days to come up with millions for a parcel of land that will put him on top, and the rest of the guys know that and start putting on the squeeze. Directed by JC Chandor (All is Lost), it’s a taut little thriller about honour and respect, with not that much violence, actually, set in an unrecognizable New York—a tense chase scene on a graffiti-covered subway is especially retro-seeming. Its central couple is electric, a beacon in this gaudy land.

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