Rapid Movie Review: ‘A MOST VIOLENT YEAR’ & ‘TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT’

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Preston Barta // Editor


A MOST VIOLENT YEAR | 125 min. | Rated R
Directed by J.C. Chandor
Starring Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Elyes Gabel, Alessandro Nivola, Glenn Fleshler and Albert Brooks

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is only the third film from writer-director J.C. Chandor (MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST), yet it shows the maturity and control of a great auteur. Comparisons to a young Martin Scorsese are not unwarranted.

This gritty thriller tells the story of the Morales family as they struggle to maintain their business empire during 1981 New York, which, cue the title, is the city’s most crime ridden year. While Abel, played earnestly by Oscar Isaac (INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS) is constantly pressured by the elements of his surroundings, he’s not going to let the events threaten the life he worked so hard to build.

Isaac and Jessica Chastain (ZERO DARK THIRTY) both give unblemished performances as a couple whose lives are twisted in love and business. While the film is a slow simmer, it is later ferociously brought to a boil, before unleashing its fury in a third act that is absolutely riveting.

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is playing in select theaters.


TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT | 95 min. | Rated PG-13
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Catherine Salée

Strikingly directed by Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne (THE KID WITH A BIKE), the French-spoken TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT is a finely paced tale that draws an immediate and interactive portrayal of a working-class family.

This character-driven narrative delves into the story of a woman (Marion Cotillard) who takes some time away from her factory job to deal with her depression. In her absence, her job decides that it can go on without her, and she must fight with everything she has to prevent her employees from taking her work away.

Cotillard (INCEPTION) proves once again, she is very deserving of her Oscar nomination, giving a shattering lead performance that shows the hardships of facing your fears. However, TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT is not about depression and economic struggles; it is about taking responsibility for your life, and in the process, transforming those around you.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT is playing in select theaters today.

 

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.