A Most Violent Year moves at a deliberately slow pace and reveals just enough information to keep you hanging, maintaining tension throughout. This also provides ample time for the characters to develop.
Abel is no doubt a self-assured and self-made businessman, but even he doesn’t know everything as his principles struggle against his problems – will his moral compass stay fixed or sway with the nefarious times?
He tries to expand his business but rampant violence and corruption eventually rear their ugly heads to threaten everything he built.
The cinematography and production design gives an authentic feel of the film’s world – widescreen images filled with period detail, from filing cabinets to an ungentrified New York.
The cast delivers great performances with Oscar Isaac proving he is one of the best actors as of the moment. Jessica Chastain is everywhere these days, but she manages to make an impact in each of her roles. Albert Brooks is physically unrecognizable and convincing. Elyes Gabel is getting more gigs post-GOT and he deserves it. David Oyelowo is also great as a character that you’ll likely underestimate until the end.
While A Most Violent Year stands out from most crime dramas, it’s not that thematically different from its peers in the genre. There are plenty of characters who have navigated morally grey areas while entrenched in broken systems.
Anna’s character isn’t common, but it would have been better if she was given a bit more depth.
Still, A Most Violent Year is well-executed enough to make something familiar feel new. It may not have enough action for mainstream audiences or depressing drama to ping Oscar’s radar, but it’s still engrossing and thought provoking film.
A Most Violent Year
A Most Violent Year is a tense crime drama set against an ungentrified New York that will grip you like a slowly tightening noose.