7:30 PM, 21st March, 2017
Say what you will about Ben Affleck, there’s no denying he knows how to direct a film. He launched his directing career in 2007 adapting a Dennis Lehane novel with Gone, Baby Gone, and followed that with even more impressive turns in The Town and Argo. Now, Affleck has come full circle to bring another of Lehane’s novels to the big screen in Live By Night.
It’s the roaring ’20s and prohibition has done little to stop the flow of liquor, least of all in Boston where gangster-run speakeasies keep the likes of Joe Coughlin (Affleck) plenty busy. But the life of an outlaw comes at a high cost, as Joe discovers firsthand when a botched robbery forces him to flee Boston for a one-way trip to the sunny shores of Tampa, Florida.
And that’s just the tip of the fedora. There, Joe muscles in on a rum bootlegging operation, falls in love with a Cuban femme fatale, shoots people (and gets shot at) and even finds time to face off against two mobs, a God-fearing local sheriff, corrupt politicians and the KKK.
Live By Night clearly leaves no trope of the genre unturned. But Affleck’s loyalty to the old-school gangster flicks of yesteryear is perhaps his downfall too: its many characters and sub-plots could easily fill a whole series of films. But for what it’s worth, Affleck’s fourth effort as director is still a brilliantly cast and beautifully made gangster epic that’s well worth getting lost in.