Verdict: Director Ben Affleck gets most things right.
Based on Dennis Lehane’s bestseller of the same name, Live By Night is Ben Affleck's next directorial venture after Argo. The 2012 release won an Oscar for the Best Film and expectations from Affleck's latest movie were expectedly high. The director definitely doesn't disappoint but the actor does. Playing the part of Joe Coughlin, Ben’s character is the movie’s weakest link and this can be regarded as one of his worse performances. His fails to emote and you can neither hate him for his actions nor sympathize with him when he loses a loved one. But donning the director's hat, Affleck keeps Live By Night crisp, edgy, and dramatic.
Set in the 1920s, it follows the story of Joe Coughlin (Affleck), the son of a policeman who barely believes in the principles of his father. He is in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) but as they plan to leave the city, Gould's boss, Albert White (Robert Glenister) takes her away and leaves Coughlin brutally injured. With no clue of what happened to Emma, Joe joins forces with White’s rival – Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone) – and promises him to expand his empire. On his journey to becoming one of the most powerful men in the business, Coughlin meets new people and all of them affect his life in different ways.
Zoe Saldana and Chris Messina, who play Affleck's wife and partner respectively, give competent performances. But it is the eighteen-year-old Elle Fanning who makes the most out her complex part. Her character – Loretta Figgis – doesn't have much to do initially but as the film progresses, she is instrumental in changing Joe. The scene between Affleck and Fanning at a restaurant shows why the girl will go a long way in Hollywood.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Live By Night starts off on a slow note and you might get bored in the first forty minutes. But after a while the plot takes interesting turns, thus keeping your hooked on to the screen. It also has great production values and Ben Affleck makes a slamming return as a director. It's worth the wait.