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In the Dark

Trucking Upward

A Most Violent Year
Produced by Before The Door Pictures 
and Washington Square Films
Directed and written by J.C. Candor
Distributed by A24

I went to J.C. Chandor’s new film A Most Violent Year with high expectations.  His first, Margin Call, was simply the best cinematic examination of the 2008 banking crisis we’ve had to date: literate, moving, funny, and, above all, convincing.  His second film, All Is Lost, was something of a stunt—a nearly wordless drama of a lone rich man navigating his high-end sloop through the harrowing of the Indian Ocean gone mad.  Both films examine how wealthy, accomplished people respond to extraordinary stress.  This is not a new theme, certainly, but what distinguishes both movies is Chandor’s nearly pitiless reflection on where hubris leads.

A Most Violent Year explores the same theme.  As with his earlier films, Chandor displays a tact and discipline uncommon to the screen, but this time his story seemed to me overly buttoned down.  When I first watched it, I concluded that it suffered in virtue of its own restraint.  On a second viewing, however, I changed my mind.  Yes, the film could be more exciting, but its quietness was integral to its drama.  Its central characters have navigated themselves into a cultural sea change in order...

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