Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: A Most Violent Year

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

A Most Violent Year (A24)

A Most Violent Year Poster

Written & Directed by J. C. Chandor

Starring Oscar IsaacJessica ChastainDavid OyelowoAlessandro Nivola & Albert Brooks

Say it with me people. Jessica Chastain. Jessica Chastain. Jessica Chastain is amazing. She is fast becoming my favorite actress. A Most Violent Year is a smoldering drama. It’s not an action film but a gloriously original take on the organized crime drama. A take on the mobster movie that I have never seen before, with amazing performances and palpably excruciating tension. And Jessica Chastain is fan-fucking-tastic… Seriously she is.

Verdict: SPARED

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain

I’ve never been a fan of Oscar Isaac. I didn’t like his Coen Brothers character and he has yet to impress me in anything. I know he’s in the new Star Wars but if he doesn’t play a Sith then he is horribly miscast. Because the guy does not come off as likable in anything. And that fact, that he is inherently unlikable, really works wonders in this film. She’s a cliché and he is not. And they clash. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year is a well-written, well-directed and well-executed character study of the relationship between a husband and wife who are deeply connected to the mob through family, through business, through marriage, through money and the tension that it creates between the two of them in his business and in their home. This is a performance driven drama and these two do some great work.

Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year is one of the few recent crime-dramas that has a well-defined morality. A moral center. And it isn’t just about having bad people do bad things. Our hero does not want to go down that road.  And for most of the movie, I was the one rooting for people to get shot. The tension builds so beautifully in this film that at one point I was sitting there hoping for a bloody killing spree. I’m not proud.

Jessica Chastain

But can we talk about Jessica Chastain. She’s given us some great performances these past few years. We need to acknowledge her amazing body… of work. After wowing critics in The Help, a movie I have not yet seen, she starred in Zero Dark Thirty, which was amazing and she was amazing in it, then she follows that up with two more great performances this year in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and in A Most Violent Year showing that she is consistently good at her job. Now I’ll have to run down her credits and watch everything… EVERYTHING she has ever done. I predict she’ll be taking home a bunch of hardware in the not-too-distant future.

A Most Violent Year

So to recap… A Most Violent Year is morally refreshing after so many movies where that wasn’t the case. A Most Violent Year is a twist on the mob film, and that alone is incredible because there aren’t a lot of untried mobster themes left. A Most Violent Year is a character driven, performance driven, drama that I literally had to watch twice to know if I liked it. And I know that makes little sense because if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t have wanted to watch it twice. So I may go back for a third time just to check my logic.

A Most Violent Gif

Oh yes… and Jessica Chastain is awesome.

– Mel


5 thoughts on “Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: A Most Violent Year

  1. I agree that the moral center in this film is so refreshing, I am so glad that this wasn’t another cliche mob movie. I’m not as big a fan of Jessica Chastain as you, but she has grown on me a lot in the last year. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m new to the Jessica Chastain fan club. I’m gonna watch Mama and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (both from last year). I may even sit through The Help. I may try to sit through The Help. Okay, I might just skip to the scenes that she’s in. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was lucky enough to see this way back in November and as an added bonus I got a Q & A with Cast/Prod/Dir and I loved hearing them explain it all. I loved the on-foot chase scene, Jessica was great.. it wasn’t my fav. film of the year, but I loved it being so different and so well acted! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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