Director : Ben Affleck
Set during the prohibition era in Boston, Live by Night is the story of Joe Coughlin (Affleck) a small time crook who has little desire to be a gangster. He just wants to make enough money to take away his secret love, Emma Gould (Miller). Unfortunately the reason this love is secret is that Gould belongs to Irish mob boss Albert White. When that “last job” goes awry and police officers are killed Coughlin tries to make his getaway with Emma but is found out by White but before he can punish him Coughlin’s Police chief father is able to place him in the relative safety of prison. Three years later Joe sets about taking his revenge against White by working for an Italian mob boss who also wants White out-of-the-way. This takes Joe to Florida where he sets up a very prominent criminal empire but it’s not without its resistance, most notably from te Ku Klux Klan.
Let’s be honest, the film was poor and there was little the cast could do about it, more as to why that is later. Affleck, I’m presuming, was hoping for his Corleone moment here. He doesn’t get close which really isn’t a surprise. He just doesn’t carry the presence to pull that sort of performance off and it’s not like he can blame the director now is it?! The saving performances come from Cooper and Fanning as local Police Chief Figgis and his daughter Loretta. Loretta becomes a key falling out point between Joe and Figgis and this brings out stand out performances from Cooper and Fanning which really deserved to be part of something better.
There’s not really a lot of words I can use to describe how uninteresting this film was. Affleck has managed to take some really juicy ingredients and make a very boring and tedious film. Gangsters, the Klan, racism and religious crusading and still he manages to lose the viewer. The trailer made this out to be an old-fashioned Tomy-gun toting gangster flick akin to The Untouchables but it couldn’t be farther from that if it tried. From the outset, no matter how many times Coughlin told the viewer he didn’t want to be a gangster (like Goodfellas in reverse) you knew what was coming. His monologue didn’t help either, it just reminded you why you were bored. It’s lacking in any kind of real gangster moments to remember and it just fizzles out into the sunset without any real climax.
1.5/5 Stars: Live by night died before the sun went down.