Throughout J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year
, there are many allusions to crime films of the 70s and early 80s. Whether Bradford Young's Gordon Willis-inspired cinematography or Chandor's Sidney Lumet-influenced direction, it's a film that would make those that were alive during that era proud.
Though it revolves around actual facts (1981 was
in fact a violent year for New York City), the title is somewhat non-indicative. The film doesn't linger too much on actual violence. (At least until the towards the end.) Much like The Godfather
, A Most Violent Year
uses violence only as a last resort. (And the results can be pretty grim.)
Speaking of The Godfather
, the performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain are very reminiscent of those from the first two installments of Francis Ford Coppola's famed trilogy. Isaac clearly channels that Al Pacino's performance from the first film. Chastain, meanwhile, channels more of Pacino's work of the second film. He's trying to stay away from violence, she's more accepting to violence. A nice foil between the two.
As mentioned earlier, A Most Violent Year
is very reminiscent of the films of Sidney Lumet. If one film of Lumet's extensive career could best be compared to this, it would be Prince of the City
. Low-key yet very effective, both films show the business side of criminal behavior.
A Most Violent Year
may be slow in spots but it still remains exciting. Thanks to the work from Chandor, Isaac and Chastain, it's a portrait of times passed. You don't normally see films like this nowadays.