Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana
Director: Ben Affleck
Sometimes I feel like people like to engage in a little Ben Affleck bashing. Perhaps when someone is as successful as he is, there’s a sense of tall poppy syndrome, cutting down someone hoping to see them fail. The huge outcry about him playing Batman comes to mind.
So when Live By Night came out and people were talking dirty about it, running in into the ground, I had to question it. Is it as bad as everyone seems to think?
The film is set in Florida during Prohibition, where a group of Boston gangsters take to running the town. Affleck stars and directs as a man with a past, who has tried to stay out of trouble, but managed to fall foul of the bad guys back home, and so has become what he hates, a gangster. He’s soon at the top of the game in Florida, but his past haunts him. He’s not a ruthless man, is he strong enough to stay in control?
There’s plenty of stars in this film, and each gives and excellent performance, particularly Fanning and Saldana, and the film feels vital and lavish in it’s sets and costumes. But I think, though the plot is nice and twisty, it feels a little bit off centre. A reluctant gangster who’s secretly a romantic good guy? And in some scenes, I felt like Affleck was perhaps not fully invested, which might have something to do with writing, directing and starring in his own film.
But, is it a bad film? Not by any stretch.
When you compare it to other Affleck films like The Town or Argo, you can see that there’s a passion that’s missing, perhaps. There’s a sense of style over substance. But compared to other films out there right now, it’s not a terrible film at all. It’s quite good, in that it’s a bit different, in it’s period setting, and what it tries to do with the mafia/gangster genre. If you like crime films, and lavish productions, then try out this film, and go in with an open mind.
See It If: Should please Affleck fans, those who like crime stories, and anyone who loves period films of the Prohibition era.