Film Notes: Live by Night (2016) directed, written, co-produced and starring by Ben Affleck


US / 129 min / Color / A Warner Bros. release of an Appian Way, Pearl Street, in association with RatPac-Dune Entertainment Dir:Ben Affleck Pro: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Todd Scr: Ben Affleck based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane Cin: Robert Richardson Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams Cast: Ben Affleck, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Remo Girone, Robert Glenister, Matthew Maher, Miguel J. Pimentel, Anthony Michael Hall, Titus Welliver, Chris Sullivan, Max Casella, Kristen Annese, Larry Eudene, Derek Mears Synopsis: What you put out into this world will always come back to you, but it never comes back how you predict.  Taking fatherly advice is not in Joe Coughlin’s nature.  Instead, the WWI vet is a self-proclaimed anti-establishment outlaw, despite being the son of the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent.  Joe’s not all bad, though; in fact, he’s not really bad enough for the life he’s chosen.  Unlike the gangsters he refuses to work for, he has a sense of justice and an open heart, and both work against him, leaving him vulnerable time and again—in business and in love.  Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him and those close to him, Joe heads down a risky path that goes against his upbringing and his own moral code.  Leaving the cold Boston winter behind, he and his reckless crew turn up the heat in Tampa.  And while revenge may taste sweeter than the molasses that infuses every drop of illegal rum he runs, Joe will learn that it comes at a price.  (Official website)  Release Dates: 13 December 2016 (New York City, New York), 27 January 2017 (Spain) Spanish title: Vivir de noche  IMDb Rating: 6.5.

Here’s what Affleck told about the production (Source: Collider):

“This is the first movie I’ve made that was really constructed on purpose. I wanted it to feel classic, like it could have been made in the ’70s or even the ’40s, not doing too much cutting, not having very tight close-ups, allowing scenes to play and giving the actors space to play across the frame. But also we’re aware of contemporary audiences’ acclimation. The grammar of film is different now. So it was a challenge.”

Here’s the official synopsis for Live by Night (Source: Collider):

Live by Night” is set in the roaring `20s when Prohibition hasn’t stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The opportunity to gain power and money is there for any man with enough ambition and nerve and Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston Police Superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll. The fiery affair ends in tragedy, setting Joe on a path of revenge, ambition, romance and betrayal that propels him out of Boston and up the ladder of Tampa’s steamy rum-running underworld.

Recently, Begoña and I had the opportunity to watch Live by Night a film I have enormous difficulties to comment. Despite the fact that I didn’t get bored, I can’t say it got me excited. It’s true that it has many good things but, as a whole, it doesn’t work well. I’s hard to understand the behaviour of the main character, and is far from clear the development of the script and last but not least I personally don’t think Ben Affleck to be the most appropriate actor for that role.

The Hollywood Reporter film review

Official website

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2 thoughts on “Film Notes: Live by Night (2016) directed, written, co-produced and starring by Ben Affleck

  1. Thank you, José Ignacio, for the candid review. It’s a shame the film didn’t really succeed for you, as the Dennis Lehane novel f is, I think, quite good.

    1. Don’t worry Margot. I look forward to reading one day Lehane trilogy. Thanks for your suggestion. I even think that I already have some of the books in my Kindle.

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