A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – Review by Susan Granger

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Set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history, J.C. Chandor’s intense noir-thriller combines political intrigue with industrial corruption. Ambitious, idealistic Hispanic immigrant Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) started as a fuel truck driver for a heating oil distributor. When he marries the mob-connected boss’s daughter Anna (Jessica Chastain) and they take over the family business, he discovers it’s not easy being honest in the crime-riddled city. After making a deal to purchase a waterfront storage facility, Morales is faced with a series of brutal anonymous attacks, hijacking his drivers and stealing his fuel. Egged on by Anna and his lawyer (Albert Brooks), he turns to desperate measures to protect his property, his family and his chunk of the American Dream. Read on…

Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) conjures up memories of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone, and the scene where he explains to new salesmen how to act classy and close a deal is a gem. There’s also a chase on an elevated train and shootout on the 59th Street Bridge between Manhattan and Queens.

Adopting a thick Brooklyn accent, Jessica Chastain is formidable foil, and the strong supporting cast includes David Oyelowo, Eyles Gabel, Alessandro Nivola and Jerry Adler.

Writer/director J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call,” “All is Lost”) was writing the script when the tragic shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, not far from his home.

“It made me think of this idea of escalation – how in act of violence ripples on society,” he recalls. And this taut, richly atmospheric crime drama obviously takes inspiration from Sidney Lumet’s “Prince of the City,” also set in 1981.

Chandor’s next film tackles the explosion and sinking of the British Petroleum offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, sparking the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Most Violent Year” is a gritty, savvy 7. Impeccably crafted, it evokes a turbulent time.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.