Most Violent Year, A

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain. Crime drama. Written & directed by J. C. Chandor.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A Most Violent Year is a thriller set in New York City during the winter
of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the cityís history.† The film follows 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.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Itís actually not the most violent film Iíve seen this year and Iím not sure how it got the title as the story takes place just over a monthís time. But I guess A Most Agitated Month doesnít work, either. What we do get is a compelling, well-acted story of how corruption of the soul begins to manifest itself Ė slowly, then all at once. Where a film like The Godfather is more about the depiction of organized family-run crime, this film examines the effect criminality has on those who think they can balance a peaceful life while surrounded by lawbreakers.

The lead justifies his own infringements of the law in order to maintain his business and well-ordered life. This we can all relate to, as we tend to justify our own deeds. While we may not be breaking menís laws, we do break Godís, daily. This film reminds us of how easy it is to fall into destructive traps. There is teachable symbolism and the overall story is a moral parable. Sadly, in an era when all such teachable moral parables must, according to Hollywood standards, be fringed with R-rated content, A Most Violent Year is no exception.

In 1973 Peter Yates (Bullitt) directed The Friends of Eddie Coyle. This may be one of the most realistic film depictions of a man involved in the underworld, but wanting to get free of it. Robert Mitchum gave the best performance of his career. It is an extraordinary film, again due to Mitchum and his co-stars. Sadly, it is also rated R for language and violence, and therefore resulting in my not being able to offer it as a DVD alternative.

Would that R-rated films were exceptions so that the substance of the theme would generate a fresh impact. After 40 years of unrestricted screen behavior, however, Iím not sure todayís audiences would accept a film about gangsters without the now traditional obscene language and the graphic violence.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Around 50 obscenities, mostly the f-word and spoken by nearly every character.

Profanity: I caught five misuses of Christís name and one profane use of Godís.

Violence: Some beatings, some shootings, a jolting and gory suicide as a man shoots himself in the head; another jolting gun shot.

Sex: Brief sexual situation, no nudity.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some smoking and drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 125 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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