CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
From the director of All Is Lost, A Most Violent Year is a fabulously crafted, smartly narrated & strongly performed crime drama that features less portion of the crime segment & is more a full-fledged drama dealing with oil, corruption & power, and with its expert use of its gritty atmosphere, the film manages to make itself work amazingly well.
Set in 1981 New York City, the story of A Most Violent Year concerns Abel Morales; the young & hard-working owner of Standard Oil who despite the recent loss in his business refuses to take the road of violence. But when the crime in the city escalates & threatens to destroy Abel's personal & professional life, he makes a risky deal to push his company ahead of the competitors.
Written, co-produced & directed by J.C. Chandor, the film looks beautiful from its opening moments & carries a similar ambience that can be found in various crime drama epics of the past. Cinematography makes gorgeous use of camera, colour hues & low-light photography, Editing unfolds it at a slower pace but it's never dull, and its background score sort of fits.
Coming to the performances, A Most Violent Year features a reliable cast in Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks & others but it's Isaac & Chastain who impress the most. While Isaac continues his rise in the film industry with another compelling work, Chastain absolutely steals the show with an outstanding & often intimidating performance in her given role that's definitely one of her best works.
On an overall scale, A Most Violent Year succeeds brilliantly for the majority of its runtime, is thrilling in parts & brims with tension yet where it completely misses out is in bringing its story to a satisfying conclusion. The entire picture builds itself up for a memorable ending but that part never really arrives for the film ends before we get there. Nevertheless, Chandor's latest still works much better than I actually anticipated & is definitely recommended.