A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year ★★★★½

Many are calling J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year a throwback to Sidney Lumet in his prime, and that comparison is certainly warranted with what I would consider one of the most absorbing crime drama's I have seen in a long time (with a bit of the Biblical 'Job' account thrown into the mix for good measure).

Oscar Isaac is stellar here and often made me think of a young Pacino, and if he continues on this streak, Isaac may prove to be one of the greats, whilst Jessica Chastain displays astounding range, and completely owns her role as we have come to expect.

Themes of capitalism and the 'American Dream' are no stranger to the cinematic landscape, but Chandor proves that they can be repackaged and still remain relevant if the storytelling is told with as much confidence and elegance as it is here.

Cinematographer Bradford Young is coming up in the world very quickly (last years Ain't Them Bodies Saints was an exquisite display of his talent), and here his framing and use of light and shade perfectly compliment the material and effectively highlight the period detail, and coupled with Alex Ebert's brooding score and the tone is set just right.

The film is a deliberate slow-burner, but is balanced wonderfully with some thrilling set-pieces and some deliciously written confrontations, particularly on the home-front with Isaac and Chastain's marriage dynamics carrying as much heft as the main narrative itself.

A Most Violent Year is like a perfectly seared steak that is mouth-watering to the last morsel, completely satisfying and leaves you happily picking your teeth after it has been long digested.

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