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A Most Violent Year

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United Arab Emirates, United States · 2014
Rated R · 2h 5m
Director J. C. Chandor
Starring Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Albert Brooks, Elyes Gabel
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller

A thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.

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What are people saying?

Meagen Tajalle Profile picture for Meagen Tajalle

This stylish film excels in evoking both the time and place in which it is set, and it feels like such a privilege to watch Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac anchor a film together. I only wish that J.C. Chandor got the opportunity to make more films that are tonally similar to this one.

What are critics saying?


Slant Magazine by

J.C. Chandor's fondness for situational irony is empowered by the spartan efficiency of his method, and that of most of his performers.


TheWrap by Alonso Duralde

The pacing, the performances (Albert Brooks is a stand-out as Abel's lawyer), and every facet of the production serves the story and the film's larger ideas.


Hitfix by Drew McWeeny

J. C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year is a powerfully told story, a thrilling surprise, and both Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain do remarkable work.


IndieWire by Eric Kohn

The filmmaker is ultimately better at constructing nuanced environments and troubled figures than making every piece of the equation gel as a whole. But that's a minor issue in the overall tapestry of Chandor's carefully designed world.


The Playlist by James Rocchi

A Most Violent Year asks you to watch and listen and pay close attention; it also rewards that investment with subtle, real pleasures and provocations. Set in that messy place where crime, business, law and politics intersect — which is to say, the real world — A Most Violent Year is a slow-burn drama about what kinds of compromises you'll make in order to tell yourself you haven't compromised.


Time Out by Joshua Rothkopf

A Most Violent Year, Chandor’s absorbing no-bull NYC drama, further clarifies what might be the most promising career in American movies: an urban-headed filmmaker attuned to economies of place and time, with an eye on the vacant throne of Sidney Lumet.


Variety by Scott Foundas

In his third turn behind the camera, writer-director J.C. Chandor has delivered a tough, gritty, richly atmospheric thriller that lacks some of the formal razzle-dazzle of his solo seafaring epic, “All Is Lost,” but makes up for it with an impressively sustained low-boil tension and the skillful navigating of a complex plot (at least up until a wholly unnecessary last-minute twist).


The Hollywood Reporter by Todd McCarthy

A tough-minded, bracingly blunt look at the sometimes debilitating cost of doing business that casts an unblinking eye on the physical, emotional and moral bottom line.


The Guardian by Xan Brooks

JC Chandor’s period crime drama is rigorous, resourceful and as smart as a whip...But its canny tactical struggle remains a joy to behold.

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