Live by Night Film Review

Live by Night [2017]
15, Action
DirectorBen Affleck
Screenwriter: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, Chris Messina, Brendan Gleeson


Live by Night is a passion project of Ben Affleck, based on the book of the same name. It’s set in 1920’s prohibition era America and stars Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin, a small time crook who refuses to pick a side despite the Irish and Italian mob ruling over Boston. However once it’s discovered that he’s sleeping with the leader of the Irish Mobs wife and lands in jail thanks to a bank heist gone wrong, he joins the rival gang in hopes of getting his revenge. Playing nice and setting up shop down in Florida he must try to keep his rum business afloat while dealing with Rival gangs, the Ku Klux Klan and a very pro-prohibition church.

If there’s one thing this movie proves, it’s that Ben Affleck is an incredibly talented film maker. The directing is great, the movie has a great sense of style with really takes you back to the 1920’s and all the actors do a solid job for the most part which really help to bring the whole film to life. The only problem however is the story, there is just way too much stuff going on that at times that it feels like the movie would’ve been better off as a mini series than a 2 hour flick.

Also watching this movie it’s very clear to see that this is Ben Afflecks movie (more as in a movie made by him than a movie which he excels in) his character is the star, he’s the winner in every situation and he even throws himself a couple of sex scenes or two. Though aside from Ben you also have great performances by Zoe Saldana as Graciela, Joe’s Cuban wife, Chris Messina as Dion Bartolo, the right hand man/occasional comic relief and Elle Fanning as Loretta Figgis, daughter of the sheriff who become a thorn in Joe’s side once she finds god and turns her town away from the vice he creates.

Finally, and back on to the story, we have the ending which in my opinion dragged down this film quite a bit. There’s a point where it feels like the end of the film, Ben’s character Joe is living his life with a more colourful outlook until a jarring cut back to one of the films previous characters and a more bittersweet end complete with narration like we saw in the beginning. I am mixed about this feeling however, as I know why it’s been added, to echo back the words of his father earlier in this movie that “What you put out into the world will always come back for you” in that even though he did escape the gangster life, his past will forever haunt him but the way it’s played off feels more cheap and tacked on in my opinion.

Overall though this is a great movie but a competent filmmaker, making a film he’s really passionate about which shows in every scene of the movie. While the story may have too much going on at times, it is gorgeous to look at and propped up by some brilliant performances  all round to boot.

Live By Night gets a 7/10

If you liked this then you’ll love Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Argo and the Town


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