A Most Violent Year: Review of the Third Film in JC Chandor's Triple Drama Movie Crown

by DerdriuMarriner

A Most Violent Year follows a couple through the best and worst, most dangerous and exciting moments of their city’s and company’s super-troubled times.

Violence frightens a home-heating company's drivers and salespeople:

A Most Violent Year acquaints movie-lovers with the best and worst, happiest and saddest, most dangerous and exciting moments in their city’s -- New York -- and company’s -- Standard Oil -- super-troubled times, in 1981. It begins with a truck-jacking which leaves the driver (Elyes Gabel) hospitalized for a broken jaw and an injured leg. Company owner Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) comforts Julian with the promise to cover all medical costs and keep him employed.

The assault does not constitute the first against Abel’s business. Abel and lawyer Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks) therefore explain the situation to District Attorney Lawrence (David Oyelowo). They find that criminal felony and misdemeanor charges are being prepared against Standard Oil.


In "A Most Violent Year," Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) faces challenges in meeting balloon payment on fuel oil terminally critically located on New York City's East River, which links Upper New York Bay to the south with Long Island South to the north.

Island of Manhattan juts southward from top center (north), bordered by Hudson River to the west (left) and East River to the east (right).
Color codes: dark blue = water; green = vegetated land surface is green; whitish blue = paved urban areas
Color codes: dark blue = water; green = vegetated land surface is green; whitish blue = paved urban areas

Violence gives prosecutors cause, bankers and moneylenders pause

Abel gives seven rules paramount importance in his professional dealings:

  • adhering to industry-wide practices;
  • being afraid of nothing but failure;
  • committing to expensive, but superior products;
  • cooperating with law enforcement;
  • requiring drivers, office employees, and salespeople to be accessible, courteous, and informed; and
  • selecting the most right path by keeping in mind the intended result.

Such codes of conduct head him down the path of socio-economic success by affording his family a modern mansion with a blue double-door entry, landscaped grounds, and lots of glass in an exclusive neighborhood. He is able to put 40% down on textile entrepreneur Josef Mendellsohn’s (Jerry Adler) fuel oil terminal -- inherited from a childless uncle -- on the East River.


New York City's Verrazano Narrows Bridge serves as film location of first of series of terrifying truck hijackings meant to cripple Abel Morales' (Oscar Isaac) Standard Oil Company in "A Most Violent Year":

With upper level opened in 1964 and lower level in 1969, Verrazano Narrows Bridge spans the Narrows, strait separating boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder

Violence hits emotionally, financially, physically vulnerable individuals hardest

But an attempted home invasion, continued assaults, and felony charges join to:

  • cause wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) to carry an unregistered gun;
  • frighten daughters Annie (Daisy Tahan) and Elizabeth (Taylor Richardson);
  • inspire Teamsters-recruited drivers to drive with unregistered firearms; and
  • make Arnold Lewis (John Procaccino) renege on a bank-promised loan.

A search warrant carried out on Annie’s tenth birthday kindles suspicion among Abel’s new neighbors. The withdrawal of bank support leaves Abel without the means to pay Joseph and brother Moishe (Quinn Meyers) the rest of the sale price within 30 days. Abel nevertheless manages to borrow:

  • $200,000 through football-playing, skirt-chasing, University-attending brother Elias (Pico Alexander); and
  • $500,000 from Lorraine (Annie Funke) and Saul Lefkowitz (David Margulies).


A critical event on the Queensborough Bridge escalates the action in "A Most Violent Year"

Queensborough Bridge, looking east from Manhattan toward Queens
Queensborough Bridge, looking east from Manhattan toward Queens

Violence is ended by compromise, coercion, consensus, containment

No other clues need be given when the surviving of two truck-jackers mentions selling Abel’s oil in Far Rockaway. The revelation obtains $213,000 from gangster’s son Arnold Lewis (John Procaccino), purchaser of stolen oil marked Texas #4. It simultaneously provides nothing regarding $600,000 short of the terminal’s sale price. Abel questions borrowing from gangster’s son, Peter Forente (Alessandro Nivola). Undetectable skimming by Brooklyn gangster’s daughter Anna fortuitously releases $611,000 for closing. 

So A Most Violent Year offers film-loving audiences culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, geo-historically enthralling insights into tensely, thrillingly crafted crime drama movies, thanks to:

  • J.C. Chandor, director/producer/writer;
  • Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, producers;
  • Alex Ebert, musician;
  • Ron Patane, editor;
  • Kasia Walicka-Maimone, costume designer; and
  • Bradford Young, cinematographer.


A Most Violent Year Official Trailer #1 (2014) - Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain Crime Drama HD

Published on YouTube by MOVIECLIPS Trailers on Nov 3, 2014 ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o87gG7ZlEAg

A Most Violent Year ~ Buy now on Amazon ~ Available in Blu-Ray and DVD formats

Film by J.C. Chandor; talented cast includes Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, and Albert Brooks
J.C. Chandor films

A Most Violent Year ~ Available via Amazon Instant Video now: Rent or Buy with 1-Click®

A thriller set in NYC during 1981, the film follows the lives of an immigrant (Oscar Isaac) and his family trying to expand their business as the rampant violence and corruption drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.
J.C. Chandor films


My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Juilliard School graduate Oscar Isaac, who enjoys a dual career as actor and musician, plays unflappable, determined Abel Morales alongside another famous Juilliard graduate, Jessica Chastain, in J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year."

Marroquín University (Universidad Francisco Marroquín UFM) Guatemala City, south central Guatemala
Marroquín University (Universidad Francisco Marroquín UFM) Guatemala City, south central Guatemala
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

New York Night: black t-shirt ~ Available now via AllPosters

Henry Ford: "New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, they just don't know what the hell the rest of the United States is."
New York Night
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 06/19/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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