Opening 2 Feb 2017
Writing credits: Ben Affleck, Dennis Lehane
Principal actors: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana
The roaring ‘20s sliding into the darkness of the Prohibition Era is the appealing backdrop for the film Live by Night. It’s got it all: violence, romance, sex, a man's journey within himself and his ideals. There's liquor, lots of it; there are illicit affairs, tommy guns, cold Boston streets to dusty, warm Florida avenues. It’s almost too much and not nearly enough.
An ambitious project, hardworking Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay, directed, and starred. A triple threat in a big production show, that alone is a difficult feat to accomplish. Yet there was something hollow about this film, apathetic even. As much as I wanted to like it, even enjoying the first half set in my old home city of Boston, pulling me back to those nostalgic cobblestone streets that haven't changed since the last century, there was a lack of depth. It felt rushed, hurrying the viewer down south to Florida, where Joe (Affleck) had to set up a new operation, and leaving the audience directionless. There was an absence of character development, a plot that rambled and an ending that felt pressured to tie it all neatly in a bow.
The set design and beautiful period pieces helped, and there were a few scenes where one could glimpse the capabilities of Affleck as an actor but not enough to carry the film. While I remain a fan of Affleck, Live by Night is not the best representation of him as an actor or even a director or writer. In the end it was mostly glitter and not enough gold. (Lubi Barre)