Live By Night: Film Review

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Ben Affleck not only acts in Live By Night but he also directed and produced it and wrote the screenplay. That is an unreal amount of work and while he has done well in the past – Argo springs to mind – it feels like he’s taken on too much here and spread himself too thin. He doesn’t really excel in any of the main roles and that results in an average gangster drama.

He plays Joe Coughlin, who runs small time rackets with buddy Dion (Chris Messina) in Boston, but he gets caught up in the rum turf war between the Irish and Italian gangs when he falls in love Emma (Sienna Miller), the girlfriend of the Irish mob boss, Albert White. After Joe gets out of prison, he gets revenge on White by teaming up the Italian boss to run his rum operation down in Florida during the Prohibition era.

Live By Night looks beautiful and the period costumes, sets and make-up are top notch. The story is interesting, I was never bored, and I was keen to see how Joe’s arc panned out but I never cared about anybody or anything. It was very violent, ruthless and bloody but I didn’t really mind when people were popped off.

The problem stems from the script. None of the characters are particularly well written, especially the female characters – played by Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana and Miller – who don’t get much to do and are either love interests or bargaining chips. I wasn’t remotely invested in any of the characters at any point.

There’s plenty of drama and action sequences to keep audiences entertained but the story is simply average and quite forgettable. It doesn’t fare well when compared to classics of the gangster genre.

Released Friday 13th January 

SEE ALSO: Pics from the European premiere of Live By Night

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