Film review by Steve Duffy –
It’s the Roaring 20’s and 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 (Ben Affleck), 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.
Not only does Affleck star in this gangster-era movie, he also wrote and directed it. The story is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel by the same name.
The best parts of the film all happen within the first 45 minutes, then the story moves from Boston to Florida, not only leaving behind the drama, but the most enjoyable characters, Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) and Mob Boss Albert White (Robert Glenister).
The three female leads are strong, however; they all feel like they are each starring in a different movie. Miller gives a convincing portray as Affleck’s troubled moll. Once Coughlin moves to Florida, he meets Graciella (Zoe Saldana) a glamorous woman caught up in two worlds. Elle Fanning is brilliant as a religious zealot who is out to turn the town’s people against Affleck’s casino.
Chris Messina plays Affleck’s enforcer Dion Bartolo. For a movie that is being promoted as a crime drama, Messina has way too many funny lines. Affleck is a bit dull and never really pulls off the conflicted bad guy like you hope he will.
Live By Night will satisfy some of your needs for the old-time gangster films of the past, but the rum in this film runs faster than the movie.
Rating: R for strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity
Runtime: 128 minutes