Recent Releases – A Most Violent Year

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One winter’s day of 1981 in New York City, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) does whatever it takes to protect the life he worked so hard to achieve for himself and his family. With his luxurious new home, his vulnerable business, and his marriage amongst other assets all on the line, his determination, courage, and integrity are all put to the test.

I have to say this is perhaps one of the most underrated films I can remember for a long time. Although not perfect, it’s not exactly far from it either. It’s an excellent unconventional portrait of a man’s rise to prominence. Abel Morales really isn’t the typical character we’re used to seeing in a crime drama as he spends the entire film contesting the lure of running his business through unlawful means. Yet, the threat of the criminal underworld surrounding him, the pressure of federal investigation, and overall fraught tension really lend toward the film’s gangster aesthetic. It’s also impossible not to make comparisons to The Godfather considering its similar pace, hued visual style, and ambiguous characters. The only drawback is that you could argue it lacks some spark in parts of the films progression, but on the other hand, the slow burning pace could also be viewed as an effective quality. I see myself agreeing with the latter.

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I love the ending to this film as it applies somewhat of a twist to the narrative. It’s hard to describe how great the conclusion is without spoilers so I’ll just explain that it’s not you’re usual mind-blowing twist or reveal, it just puts an interesting edge on the movie’s outcome. It also leaves the narrative proceedings rather open but in a very fulfilling manner. I guess J.C. Chandor could revisit the story with a sequel but I think this film works brilliantly as a standalone feature plus I find it highly unlikely that he ever will. I might come back in a few years time to update this part of the review with a bit more discussion on how the film ends but for now I’ll just be courteous and leave it be.

With his performance in this film, Ex Machina, and the highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Oscar Isaac’s stock is rapidly on the rise. He really is a fantastic actor and deserves all the inevitable acclaim that continues to come his way. Jessica Chastain is unsurprisingly impressive as ruthless yet supportive wife, Anna. She’s easily one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood right now. Perhaps the next Meryl Streep, anyone? I’m still yet to watch Margin Call but I really am a huge admirer of All Is Lost so I have been looking forward to this film for quite sometime and I most definitely wasn’t disappointed. J.C.Chandor is a fantastic young director and I will wait for his next works with similar anticipation.

4 and a half Beige Overcoats out of 5

by Simon Garganera Price

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