14 February 2015 | matthewssilverhammer
Chandor (All is Lost) is one of the more prolific young directors working. With AMVY, an adult mystery-drama-thriller, he screams of the classics: tension of French Connection, quiet of Chinatown, and menace of Mean Streets. It's a fantastic period piece that creates an authentic, distinct look at 1980s New York, while tonally replicating films from that era. Is it a bit TOO quiet and a bit TOO slow at times? Yep
but the taut skill on display is too good to ignore. Abel Morales, a successful, hardworking oil company owner, tries to thrive and survive during 1981 NYC, the most violent year in history. Despite this premise, the crime-action is more a successfully imminent background thought than a constant in-your- face presence. As the movie progresses and ultimately gets better, the subtle suspense builds, and each individual incident pushes Morales closer to his breaking point. Isaac shines in the protagonist role, playing one of the coolest characters around: broken yet proud, strong yet vulnerable, decent yet pressed, and shrewdly bad-to-the-bone. I wish Chastain was a bit more up to the task as his ominous, hardly-doting wife, but luckily she's not a huge distraction to the otherwise stellar acting by some of Hollywood's great new talents. Throughout the solid work being done, we are presented with some great things to ponder: wanting the American dream without knowing why; struggling to be successful without becoming corrupt; juggling humility and pride in a world that drains you. Unfortunately the character's relationships with these different questions bring the movie to a bore at times. Mostly though, it manages to be a solid little award-season drama.