A Most Violent Year
J.C. Chandor's latest after last year's phenomenal All Is Lost is a slow-burning, meditative drama that examined the human's spirit as it tries to stay above the ever-rising tide of darkness, with great performances by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain (another ubiquitous year again, and definitely robbed of a Best Supporting Actress nomination...sorry Meryl).
Beautifully shot by Bradford Young, Chandor offered an understated direction on a rather theatrical script. Winter in New York is always a good setting for gritty, noir-ish crime. Well-paced with answers and revelations teased and revealed at its own time with a tension constantly simmering under the surface but never really boiling over. Except for that penultimate scene which was really unnecessary drama and kind of spoilt the tone and gravitas of the final scene.
Oscar Isaac is going to be everywhere soon and thankfully with Drive, Inside Llewyn Davis and this film, even if Star Wars tanks he will still definitely have a job and cache. Unfortunately for him, Chandor's script did not allow for a showy role, he still lacked that innate gravitas to emote with just his eyes and body language.
Chastain, on the other hand, had a great character to play with, As an intelligent, atypical gangster daughter/moll. she was fierce and yet vulnerable at the same time. Behind those stubborn eyes laid a tenderness for her husband and a ferocious protection for her children. She should have had been recognised by the Academy.
The score is again by Alex Ebert who scored All Is Lost, but this time round, the accompanying music for certain scenes felt off.
Chandor is an exciting new director/writer to follow and his films may not get as much public love, but they are definitely worth the time.