An immigrant and his family strive to maintain their burgeoning business while contending with urban violence and corruption during a particularly harsh New York City winter in 1981. Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac star in this urban drama from writer/producer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost).~Jason Buchanan
Audio commentary with writer/director J.C. Chandor and producers Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb
Theatrical review. May be spoilers. I loved director/writer J. C. Chandor's earlier efforts ("All Is Lost" and "Margin Call") and what's not to like about Oscar Isaac ("Drive" and "Inside Llewyn Davis") and Jessica Chastain ("Interstellar" and "Zero Dark Thirty")? I couldn't wait to see this pseudo-mob movie. The marketing of this film isn't exactly honest in the respect of heightening the suggestion of mob enforcement and violence. And they make no secret that Chastain plays Anna Morales, a mobster's daughter who is married to Abel (Isaac), a Columbian-American. Together they have 2 kids and have just moved into their dream home.
Abel conducts his business on the straight and narrow however. He wants to run his heating oil business in a legitimate way. The film is set in New York in 1981, a year of high crime in the city. A group of half a dozen companies compete for the business, and Abel's trucks and drivers have been targeted for hijacking. While he contemplates how to react (the union boss wants to arm the drivers), Able is also in the middle of a transaction where he will purchase an unused riverfront plant. It will dramatically increase his competitive position. After putting down $30 thousand, he has only a few days to come up with the balance. His banker has assured him of the money. In spite of his unusual honesty, Able is also under investigation for supposed crimes by an ambitious D. A. (David Oyelowo, "Selma"). It is if everything is coming at him at once, including a surprise late in the film from his beloved wife. Then one of his drivers gets into a gun fight defending himself, putting his loan in jeopardy.
Albert Brooks plays Abel's consiglieri, Andrew Walsh, who runs interference where ever he can. I was a bit surprised that the film played straight with Abel's story and his faith in doing things honestly. In a perfect role for Isaac, he reminds of Al Pacino in Godfather II. Quiet, thoughtful and almost unassuming. While his methods differ from Michael Corleone, they both are smart, innovative and determined. Isaac and Chastain have great chemistry. The look of NYC is somehow propelled back in time, with a bit more grime and grit. Automobiles match the era, giving the film authenticity. In addition to Isaac and Chastain, watch for Elyes Gable in a supporting role as Julian, one of Able's drivers. He's terrific. This is the best film Oscar ignored in 2014 and I highly recommend it.
This film is reminiscent of those great 70s masterpieces where everything and everyone is wrapped up in enigma and ambiguity. Oscar Isaac, who is proving himself as one of cinemas great chameleons, plays the straight arrow trying to make his way through twist and turns of urban corruption. Don't trust anyone, including yourself. The direction and production are pitch perfect. It's like they found this on some studio shelf and released it 40 years down the line.
Oscar Isaac reminds me of a young Al Pacino in Godfather 1&2. Cool, calm, and collected. A mellow businessman making each move carefully and with supreme calculation. Nothing is done by accident and everything is thought out and well planned. The difference in Pacino and Isaac's character is that Michael Corleone wa dal ways in control. Isaac's character finds himself in matters that are beyond his control. This keeps him out of the loop a bit. This actor has a possible future in mob movies or as the head of an aggressive business that may operate outside of the law. Oscar Isaac gives an amazing performance which may be hard to beat by any other actor this year. Jessica Chastain also gives a high caliber performance as the not so innocent wife that will do anything to keep the family business afloat. The direction is stylish and reminiscent of gangster films of the 70s.
The highest of recommends.
4 out of 4 stars
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 4 out of 5 stars
A true organized crime prequel.
A great movie that is well paced and story driven. While the movie might slow down from time to time it is never boring. Always interesting and a true glance into the beginning of a reluctant organized crime boss and family. Both Jessica Chastain and and Oscar Isaac are brilliant. A real breakout role for Isaac who I am sure we will see much more of in the near future.
In a corrupt culture, a man who has built a business for himself and his family have to fight for the business and their livelihood as his trucks are getting hijacked and robbed of their oil. Oscar Isaac is a very tough and very bright man who will not let himself be run away by thugs pushing in on his business.
I thought this movie was good, but the title leads you to believe one thing and u get another. I thought there was going to be a lot of action and gunfights...unfortunately there wasn't too much. Overall, I thought it was a good watch though, just don't let the title mislead you.