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Blu-ray Review: A Most Violent Year

J.C. Chandor follows up his successful films Margin Call and All is Lost with the Godfather-esqu crime drama A Most Violent Year. The film is set in New York City in the year 1981 and follows businessman Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) as he struggles with his moral obligations. Abel wants to bring his oil distribution business to the top, but is challenged when trucks are continually hijacked and his drivers beaten. Jessica Chastain stars as Abel’s ruthless wife Anna. Her Lady Macbeth-like character is there to send Abel in the most sensible direction, regardless of whether or not he will be breaking the law. In A Most Violent Year, Chandor is tackling uncharted waters, his previous films set in the present day in few locations. Chandor’s recreation of 1981 New York City is stunning. From the haircuts, to the clothing, to the furniture in Abel and Anna’s house, the production design is perfect. Do not be fooled by the film’s title though, there really is not much on-screen violence in the film. The film functions as more of a character study, rather than an exploration of the extreme amounts of violence that occurred in 1981. While the film looks great, it is Chastain who viewers will keep their eyes focused on, rather than the backdrop. Chastain chews through every scene she is in, turning in one of her best performances to date.

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.