Making a slow, intricate but still completely captivating period movie with an engrossing story is a hard job to do but this particular character driven Oscar Isaac vehicle manages to not only pull it off, but it does it in a highly competent and compelling manner. Not to mention style. I honestly had no idea what this was about besides something about crime and the 80s, but I’ve grown rather fond of Isaac with the past two feature films he’s starred in so I had to give this a try and I was not disappointed. Even if seeing Oscar clean-shaven was a weird experience after becoming so accustomed to him wearing a very bushy and sexy beard, it didn’t distract me one bit.
What makes this movie work so well is the writing. The characters are all beautifully human, both complex and flawed, and the underlying corruption theme both literally and symbolically intertwines beautifully into a powerful and oddly touching narrative about a man who is caught between a rock and a hard place, where he just wants to see his business, his life’s work, flourish and do it without being a crooked gangster but the surrounding world just won’t give him a break and it’s all in danger of slipping away from him and his empire come crumbling down. There’s so much going on but it still remains very simple and engrossing. It’s so rare to come across something this well constructed and gripping and it was a real pleasure to experience it by practically walking in blind with no per-conceptions, hype or bias to twist your expectations and possibly hinder the viewing experience. I don’t know what else to say about the movie. It’s great. I had previously seen All Is Lost by J. C. Chandor, and while I quite enjoyed that one, it is only with this film that I’ve become aware of him as a filmmaker. Now, I’m going to be keeping an eager eye on him from now on, that is how impressed I am by his ability as a director. Because I find myself now desperately wanting more movies of this caliber getting made.