“… one of those movies that I know I will keep going back to.”
I don’t know what it is about oil, but if you make a movie about it chances are I will love it. The most recent in my “films about oil that I love” folder is A Most Violent Year. A Most Violent Year is a film that follows Abel (played by Oscar Isaac), a fuel supplier in 1980’s New York. Abel is by no means a bad guy, but unfortunately for him the fuel supplying business is a very cutthroat one. Abel has to navigate said business while still trying to adhere to his own moral code of never becoming a gangster.
I’m not going to lie, it is difficult for me to explain exactly why I love a movie. Maybe that means I am in the wrong business, but I see it as something that I need to work on. To write “reviews” of films you have to be able to articulate your feelings, good or bad, in a way that is easily accessible to others. I have never been good at describing my emotions, and that fact doesn’t change when it comes to telling people why I love a movie. A Most Violent Year is going to be one of those movies that I won’t do justice by writing about it here. There isn’t one thing I dislike about this movie, and though that may be hard for me to describe I’m going to try my best.
I’m a sucker for period piece films. It doesn’t even matter if the film I’m watching doesn’t rely heavily on the time that it is set in, I just enjoy seeing different eras explored in modern cinema. A Most Violent Year delivers everything that I love about period piece films in spades. The movie takes place in the 1980’s in New York City. There is almost no better place to set a film that takes place in the 80’s than New York. We get to see landscapes, characters, behaviours and attitudes that are not common anymore. New York is also interesting because of the large number of different kinds of people who live there. That provides an interesting meta-story to A Most Violent Year as well. It was always known to me that Abel was just a little different (not in a bad way, just different). He spoke English well, but with a little tiny hint of an accent. He had a name that I had never heard before. Those things stuck out to me, but I brushed them off. Throughout the film we learn more about Abel and how he worked so hard for what he has and he is very protective over it. What I realized after watching the film is we are seeing a man who has built himself the American dream. Unlike Scarface (or any other film like it) we don’t get to see the underdog story unfold, but instead we get to see the aftermath. We get to see a man fight with every last breath he has to defend what has taken him so long to build. And this provides us with the interesting and intense story in A Most Violent Year.
Not only was the story engrossing and entertaining, but the movie was executed well on a technical level. The only reason we get to revel in the scenery of 1980’s New York is because of the wonderful cinematography in A Most Violent Year. But it is not just the scenic shots that captivate you, it is the little things that make all the difference. The conversation where the camera slowly pulls back to reveal the entire scene, the round table discussion with the camera able to capture everyones expressions (and feelings) flawlessly, it’s all just great. The acting is of course the cherry on top, Oscar Isaac playing the lead, but everyone else doing a fantastic job. The standout for me was surprisingly not Oscar Isaac but Elyes Gabel who played Julian. I’m not going to spoil the film, I’m just going to say that Elyes did a great job conveying emotion in this movie. Unfortunately there is not much more I can say about it without spoiling a film that I think everyone should watch for themselves.
I couldn’t end this review without talking about the soundtrack of the film. Like I stated before it’s difficult for me to explain exactly why I liked it, but just know that I think it is perfect for the film. There is a nice blend of ‘period’ music to set the tone, but also some amazing scored music that really help with immersion.
Overall A Most Violent Year is just one of those movies that I know I will keep going back to. It is a great story, has great acting, a great setting, and a great soundtrack. A Most Violent Year is a great movie.
I give A Most Violent Year an A