A Most Violent Year
Not too long ago, New York City was a rough place to live.
In the 1970s and 80s, New York was called the City That Never Sleeps. But those who ventured out at night were taking a serious risk because the streets were teeming with rogues, ruffians, and rapists.
Twenty-first century New York is a different world. It is one of the cleanest, safest cities in the country.
Rudolph Giuliani – who was mayor from 1994 to 2001 – deserves much of the credit.
Cleaning up a city as big and brutal as New York was a herculean task. But Giuliani had the will and the plan. He appointed a tough new Police Commissioner, hired hundreds more officers, and granted them more freedom to search suspicious citizens.
Giuliani subscribed to the “broken windows” theory of policing. According to the theory, the root cause of urban decay is disorder. If thugs are allowed to break minor rules without consequences, the spirit of permissiveness poisons the city and leads to more serious crime.
Whether or not you think it is okay for cops to stop and frisk teenagers and harass unlicensed cigarette street vendors, you can’t argue with success. In 1981, 1826 people were murdered in New York City. Last year – only 328.
“A Most Violent Year” is set in the year 1981, when the mean streets of New York were at their very meanest.
Oscar Isaac stars as Abel Morales: a peaceful, honest man living in a world of killing and corruption.
He looks and talks like Michael Corleone, but Abel is no gangster. He’s just a hard-working businessman trying to make his fortune shipping fuel oil.
It’s no coincidence that the lead character is named after the bible’s first murder victim. Poor Abel is being attacked from all sides.
The government is indicting him for crimes that other people did. Armed thieves are hijacking his trucks to steal the fuel. His ruthless competitors are beating up his salesmen and harassing his family at home.
Meanwhile, the teamsters are pressuring Abel to allow the truck drivers to carry guns and his wife (Jessica Chastain) calls him a coward for not arming himself to protect his children.
“A Most Violent Year” is misleadingly named. The film is a tense, plot-driven drama about a man who steadfastly refuses to resort to violence.
Abel Morales is a hero because he makes the right choices even when they are difficult and unpopular. He’s a beacon of competent management and decisive leadership in a sea of stale bureaucracy and cowardly violence. Kind of like Rudy Giuliani.