Written and Directed By J.C. Chandor
J.C. Chandor is a director I had never heard of until today, when I decided to watch this based on how much I love the two leads. In an interesting coincidence, his latest film was just released by Netflix today as well and since I enjoyed this so much, I think I’ll make today a double dose. While I did think the title here was a bit misleading, it is still a gritty, grimy kind of picture, with it’s early 1980s New York criminal underworld setting. Oscar Isaac does a fantastic job as Abel, an immigrant businessman who has married a girl from Brooklyn (played by the lovely and very talented Jessica Chastain) and tried to carve out a piece of the American Dream for himself. He certainly succeeds, running a company that trucks and sells fuel, and the bigger his piece of the pie grows, the more it sets off jos competitors. They hijack his trucks, steal his fuel, assault his employees and threaten his family. But none of it dampers his resolve, and we get a great little stors about perseverance and choosing the path of the most good. It could have devolved into a standard-fare mobster tale but Chandor takes us down a less-traveled road and the experience is richer for that decision. His camerawork is steady and he commands his actors, turning out a film that was not what I expected. The American Dream is worth fighting for, but picking your battles may do wonders to move your pieces around the board faster than those who oppose you.