Set in New York City in 1981, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is on the verge of closing a huge expansion deal for his fuel business. With only 30 days to close the deal, he strives to hold fast to his ideals but is forced by reason of necessity to compromise them. The narrative seems promising, though only in writing.
A Most Violent Year has captured the gritty realism of city life. Despite setting the mood without fault, it tends to feel as though the narrative is holding something back, even during its infrequent moments of promised violence. It does have its good moments, but they are far and few between. Isaac’s best character trait was the ‘don’t trust me’ look, apart from that, there wasn’t anything special as such. Chastain presents a good performance, though her character is so changeable from one scene to the next, that it is hard to figure out whether her relationship with Abel is a business deal or whether there is actually any affection involved. Moreover, this film feels like it’s trying to be something rather than actually being that special something.
Overall, for a film with the title of ‘A Most Violent Year’, it’s not violent at all, until the very end of the film. It does not live up to its potential. Having had high hopes for this film, I was left disappointed.