First Hit: The acting, especially by Jessica Chastain, is superb.
This story takes place in the 1960’s, in New York and in the highly competitive home heating oil business. Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) has built his business with hard work and in a short period of time.
One struggle is that his drivers hurt when his trucks are getting hijacked by someone unknown to him. He’s also trying to buy a piece of riverfront property to give him a leg up on his competitors. His growth and the whole sleaziness of the industry is being monitored by a politically hungry DA name Lawrence (David Oyelowo).
Morales' wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) has a background in the mob and it shows with her attitude, actions and strength of character. She occasionally alludes to her ties to the family with threats to Abel that she wants to bring in the family in to resolve the hijacking as well as other things. The exchanges between Abel and Anna are wonderful and charged.
The scenes of Abel teaching how to sell their service is powerfully priceless. The addition of Albert Brooks as Abel’s lawyer Andrew Walsh was an amazing selection because he brings intense pointed guidance to both Abel and the film.
Isaac is very strong and he exudes drive to make it all work. Chastain is sublime, she is so strong that you know she is the foundation that makes Abel’s business (and the film) work. Oyelowo is good as the DA trying to “clean up” this industry but also seeing where his future bread could be buttered. Brooks is phenomenal. J.C. Chandor wrote a very strong script capturing the time and industry well. His direction was clear and concise and he made his script work for him.
Overall: I’m glad the film wasn’t as violent as the title but the intensity was surely represented.