You should know that I have always taken the path that is most right. The result is never in question for me. Just what path do you take to get there, and there is always one that is most right. And that is what this is.
New York City, 1981. Crime is the highest it’s ever been. A young oilman, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), is about to close a deal with a property that would expand his oil storage, one of the best decisions he’s ever made for the company. He is a driven man with his eyes on the prize. He’s almost on top of the whole oil industry until his business is threatened by a sudden hijacking of trucks carrying his heating oil. Not only is he dealing with the aftermath of beaten drivers and salesmen, but he is being investigated by Assistant DA Lawrence regarding past tax evasion and other forms of corruption from his father-in-law’s days that would no doubt sink his success.
J.C. Chandor directs this one in a sensitive way. What the title implies is actually shown to us in phases of vulnerability and cruel intentions. What I love about this film is its dependence on Abel’s decisions. The only one who fights for his own is Abel. His family and company are being threatened, personally. He is the balance between what is right and what is wrong. In a city that condones ruthless behavior, he is standing tall, trying to do what’s best in the most graceful way. In this character-driven film, he is the only character I like. His wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) is the backbone Abel doesn’t clearly want. She is the daughter of the corrupt father who ran the oil company previously. She is persistent in different methods of handling business and sometimes collides with Abel. Picture Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Almost identical except she possesses Tony’s brutality.
Elyes Gabel plays Julian in the film, the truck driver who gets hijacked in the beginning, then recovers and attempts something crazier that will affect his life after. He’s unpredictable, but what makes him stand out here is his struggle to reach “the american dream.” Julian, a truck driver, feels so insignificant in a company that means so much more than his life. He is troubled and he is beginning to comprehend where he stands in Abel’s company. A Most Violent Year is gripping, with an atmosphere that supports its pursuit all the more. It’s a gritty and captivating drama, and it is one to admire.