It says a lot as to how much J.C. Chandor has accomplished in the space of just two movies that we now look upon his work as something to be eagerly anticipated. As this is written, Chandor is currently hard at work on his next feature, Deepwater Horizon, which will explore the true story of the explosion and subsequent cleanup operation of the eponymous oilrig. Before that though there’s just the small matter of A Most Violent Year, Chandor’s latest film, which stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.
The setting is New York and the year is 1981, which, as you can glean from the title, was a pretty violent one for The Big Apple. Isaac plays Abel Morales, an immigrant trying to expand his business against a backdrop of societal decay and ceaseless violence. With the help of his wife Anna (Chastain), Abel tries to take advantage of as many lucrative opportunities as possible. However, the crime and corruption rife within the city soon threaten to take down the Morales and everything they have worked hard for.
While the teaser gave very little away, this latest trailer gives us a much greater sense of what to expect. Chandor effortlessly captures the 80s aesthetic, simultaneously evoking Scarface and The Godfather Part II. In fact, it’s hard not to see a bit of Michael Corleone in Abel, who wants to be both a respected businessman and a feared leader. Anna on the other hand, is a far more commanding presence than Kay Corleone. Her ferocious strength shines through at regular intervals throughout the trailer. She’s practically venomous as she informs David Oyelowo’s investigating police officer that he’s been “very disrespectful”.
With a slow-burning pace, Chandor builds a growing sense of dread here that will no doubt reverberate throughout the film. Moments of searing drama are compounded with sudden scenes of sharp violence; and it’s all shot with cold, low-lit menace by cinematographer Bradford Young.
It’s true that the narrative doesn’t exactly scream originality, but if anyone has a chance of making it work, it’s Chandor. He’s one of the most exciting new voices on the contemporary cinema scene, and as such it’s impossible to not await this new effort with mounting excitement.
A Most Violent Year is out on January 23rd 2015