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A Most Violent Year
Opens: February 26
Duration: 125 minutes
Writer-director JC Chandor proves he is not only the most exciting new US filmmaker, but also one of the most unpredictable and wide-ranging with his third feature, a powerful drama set in early 1981 New York.
Chandor’s debut, Margin Call, was a riveting piece about the irresponsibility of Wall Street. The startling follow-up, All is Lost, was a virtuoso tale about a lone yachtsman fighting for survival. A Most Violent Year occupies thematically similar turf to Margin Call, yet the look and feel of the film are very different.
Oscar Isaac cements his growing reputation as a major actor with a mesmerising lead performance as a tax-avoiding, but otherwise straight-arrow, oil heating entrepreneur trying to survive in a world where his competitors are all out to crush him by robbing his trucks at gun-point. Matching, and sometimes even surpassing, him in intensity is Jessica Chastain as his Lady Macbeth of a wife, the daughter of a gangster businessman.
The locations – noisy overpasses, riverside wasteland and inner-city dereliction – give a vivid, period sense of the Big Apple’s rotten underside, echoing the feel, if not quite the stories, of such classic movies as Serpico and The French Connection. See it on the big screen.