A Most Violent Year is one of those films I tried really hard to say before I made my best of 2014 list, because I had heard a lot of good things about it.
And uhh. That is all I can say about this movie. I mean, I might have gotten it confused with A Most Wanted Man, which became incredibly average despite also hearing great things about it. Shit, I hope this doesn’t go super average.
Super average would describe most of my dinners. Non-violent super average dinners.
There are 365 days in a year and if you killed 365 people in a year, that would be pretty fucking impressive. Like, totally psychopathic or insane, but impressive. That is not at all what this movie is about.
It is about Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), just your average business man. It is the early 1980’s and he is the owner of Standard Oil, a heating oil company in New York City. He has big plans for his business and is working on getting a new location for his plant, right on the river. This will give him access to all the oils, allowing him to get better prices and you know, make more money!
But his trucks are being robbed at gunpoint. People are hijacking his vehicles, taking the oil and costing him thousands each time. And he has no idea who is doing it. At the same time he is being hounded by his “friend” the District Attorney (David Oyelowo), investigating him and others for price fixing, tax evasion, and the normal business stuff. This bad press in the news, plus the dangerousness of being a driver is leading his business down a dark path. The bank doesn’t want to help him get his new place anymore! And…and…he might lose it all!
Plus his wife (Jessica Chastain) really wants him to go after the culprits hard. Maybe kill them all. But he doesn’t want to do that. That would be most violent.
So Abel has to go to his competitors one by one to find out who is fucking him over and threatening his family. All while his drivers (Elyes Gabel) start carrying guns in their cabs and his lawyer (Albert Brooks) has no idea on how to help him. Oy vey, what a year.
And he still has to come home to give foot rubs at the end of the day.
A Most Violent Year is a hard movie to describe. It is like a mob movie, but definitely doesn’t involve the mob to any large extent. The main character is hard to really wrap your head around. You know he is definitely not “clean” in the ongoings of the business, but as to what specifically he did in the past they never really see.
Given he is our protagonist, you just have to assume you should root for him and not against him, given the lack of history. He wants that place for his company? Then by golly, I hope he gets it!
I actually liked Jessica Chastain a lot in this movie, playing the shit out of the housewife role who totally can control her husband and know everything going on in his company. The kind of woman who has a plan for everything and knows how to get things done. Was very subtle and very nice.
It is also the kind of movie I think I can re visit. And by that, I wouldn’t mind a sequel. Just not a direct one. Maybe one set ten years later, in a much less violent year, to see how the choices made influenced their lives. I would totally watch that movie.
3 out of 4.