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.
Review from the comment
If you saw Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly a few years back, you would have saw a gangster film that lacked the romanticism often associated with entries in the genre. The scenes of violence at times lacked flair and the goons often were not clearly defined in their actions on purpose, highlighting the real life absence of prettiness and consistent personalities in an ugly and chaotic world.
A Most Violent Year has a lot of that as well. Oscar Isaac leads the story as the new head of a New York trucking company in 1981 who wants to run a clean business despite the shady nature of his competitors and predecessors. When his drivers face increasing attacks and an ambitious prosecutor seeks to bring charges against Isaac's character, he struggles to stay the legitimate course.
For a gangster movie called A Most Violent Year, there really wasn't all too much violence in its 2 hours plus run time. But that was ok. Its well paced, investing viewers more in Isaac's battle to stay straight rather than whether he will ever bash some heads in. Jessica Chastain pads her increasingly impressive portfolio with another solid performance as Isaac's not afraid to go to the mattresses wife. Unfortunately it is Isaac who lets down a little. Its not that he isn't good, he does a decent enough job but whoa if he doesn't channel way too much Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in his efforts. Its possible I would have loved this movie if he had made the role more his own. But that factor coupled with some questionable scenes keep this from being a great one.