A Most Violent Year (2014)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Most Violent Year</strong> (2014)

(Video on Demand, May 2015)  There is something fascinating and heartening in seeing J.C. Chandor’s evolution as a filmmaker.  From the sterile boardrooms of Margin Call to the lonely ocean of All is Lost, Chandlor goes somewhere else entirely in tackling the problems of a circa-1981 New York heating businessman in A Most Violent Year.  The title is deceptively apt, as our protagonist comes to realize what is required of him during a particularly brutal period in his life; attacked by rivals, spurred on by his merciless wife, besieged by police and unions, he reluctantly turns to the dark side in an effort to keep what he has worked hard to create.  It’s a slow and low-key film, but one that is seldom boring or uninteresting: Oscar Isaac is splendid in the lead role, while Jessica Chastain is no less compelling as his connected wife.  Chandor’s directing is far more self-assured than the static shots of Margin Call, but less gimmicky than the high-wire audacity of All is Lost: here, he’s clean, unobtrusive yet evocative.  It all amounts to a kind of film seldom seen today, studying the compromise of a good man rather than the spectacles of an action thriller.

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