At First Glance: “A Most Violent Year”

The period drama, whether based on real events or people, or a moment, are hard to pull off successfully. Sometimes they can simply look amazing, but the overall finished film doesn’t make you glad you stuck around to watch.

In the case of the upcoming A24 Films “A Most Violent Year”, which released it’s first teaser trailer yesterday, you get the sense that there’s a big complicated story set amongst the winter of early 1981. Something engrossing that will make everything worth it.

This drama film stars Oscar Isaac (“The Two Faces of January”, “In Secret”), Jessica Chastain (“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them”, upcoming “Miss Julie”), Alessandro Nivola (“American Hustle”, “Devil’s Knot”), David Oyelowo (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”, “Jack Reacher”), Albert Brooks (“This is 40”, “Drive”), and Catalina Sandino Moreno (“At the Devil’s Door”, “The Bridge”).

This film is written and directed by J.C. Chandor (“All is Lost”, “Margin Call”).

The film is expected to hit theaters on Dec. 31, 2014. Most likely this date is for a limited release and will later hit in more theaters by mid-January 2015.

The look of the film, color and all, looks like something that was made in the ’70s and ’80s, that’s been around for some time now. This just makes the film look even more incredible and authentic. As this is a period piece, more or less, the set designs and costumes, all of that need to look good and appropriate, which fortunately, it does. Because of this basic fact, I’m even more excited for this film.

Next, and I don’t really need to go into too much detail on this, are the actors. While you don’t know yet what role most of the other actors I listed will play, it’s still an incredible list. The leads themselves will have a strong pull for this film, and will probably deliver great performances.

Of late, Chastain has not failed to be incredibly engrossing and committed to her role. Even in the, probably, little seen “Texas Killing Fields” she helps amp up the drama and tension needed to sell that particular murder mystery thriller. Here, while you may not know much, she brings a tough, compassionate woman, a wife and mother to what will no doubt be a gritty movie. One thing that appears to be a big part, is the love and family bond the characters have. It’s not just from what was shown in the teaser, but by the newly released first teaser poster (below). Either that or it says a lot about how involved Chastain’s character is in what occurs with the business.

Isaac, I’m sad to say I haven’t seen many of his most recent films. However, I can speak to his performance in “Inside Llewyn Davis” as nuanced and interesting enough to keep watching as he goes through his life. Even in the film “Balibo”, he was able to portray a man in constant danger, but one that knew the importance of what he was involved in. I became invested in all that occurred in that film. I have no doubt that he will deliver again in this film.

It’s funny, that while I am writing this I’m only able to guess. Sure the premise is simple enough -an immigrant family is trying to grow their business and get sucked into the world of violence and corruption, but could ultimately end up losing it all in the process- but it feels like there’s still details missing. As this is a teaser trailer, I can’t fully fault the film or it’s makers. I’ll wait around longer and see what else comes out about this film. This film does appear that it could be very layered and not as simple as it looks now.

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