Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), is an ambitious, hard-working immigrant attempting to build an oil delivery business against the backdrop of one of New York’s most violent years (1981).
A Most Violent Year was inexplicably overlooked at the big awards ceremonies. Cinematographer Bradford Young delivers a gorgeously shot movie, full of sepia tinged, washed out colours.
Isaac, who is fast racking up an impeccable CV, is excellent as Abel Morales, who finds his quest for the American dream under threat from all sides. Determined to hang on to what’s his, he is pulled further and further into the murky depths of his own criminality and corruption, spurred on by his wife Anna (Chastain channelling her best Lady Macbeth).
Together they make an alluring pair, dragging into their orbit an impressive supporting cast of morally ambiguous including characters played by Albert Brooks, David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola and Peter Gerety.
Though not a contender for the pantheon of great mafia movies, A Most Violent Year is still a tour de force in understated menace and subtle story telling.