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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

Live By Night Review

Director: Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck has a pretty impressive directorial catalogue already, with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and the Oscar winning Argo. All films I consider of good calibre, slick and riveting. Now, he points the camera at a period gangster piece set mostly in the southern state of Florida during the prohibition of America.

It's based of a novel by Dennis Lehane, a criminal thriller mastermind who also penned The Drop, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island and my personal favourite, Mystic River. So, we can expect a good level of thoughtful drama, especially when throwing in the mob.

Affleck takes the lead as Joe Coughlin, a part Leonardo DiCaprio was original considered to play but dropped to producer only. Coughlin, a judicious and often deceitful small time criminal undertaking heists and robberies in 1920's Boston. Trying to carve something of his own after fighting in the war, he instead comes home to get caught up in a very different war, between the Italian mafioso and the Irish mob.

But it doesn't stay in Boston very long and business ends up going south where he makes new alliances and foes, and this is where the story goes from gangland to romance and politics. It's starts off notoriously well and sets you up for something greater only to fall short towards the end.

The performances are good but I found Affleck to be the weakest of them all, it's not his best out of his recent pictures. I don't think he was cruel enough, he wasn't as menacing and calculating as I might imagine, but then, maybe that's just it and he nailed it. It's Chris Cooper that's steals the show with a strong emotional performance as not-so-corrupt police chief Figgis.

It's well shot and has some great camera work but there's nothing outstanding apart from the Boston takedown. The finale was a let down for me, I was expecting more, like a shoot-out similar to The Untouchables. It does in fact, whilst being fairly original, shares some attractive characteristics from other stories like Scarface, and I couldn't help but think there's a strong Count of Monte Cristo feel to the story.

The other key elements of the film is brilliant, the sets and locations, especially the vintage Boston arenas and the automobiles, the costume design and Harry Gregson-Williams' score is of a high standard, however, on the soundtrack, nothing outstanding or memorable.

Unfortunately, it's a story that starts off so well, teasing to lead on to something great but slopes down to romance and business deals that falls flat at the very end. Not saying it's a bad film, because it isn't, but I found the character of Coughlin, much like the last half of the film, very underwhelming. It's certainly not Affleck's best work in my opinion. I would much rather rewatch The Town and Agro over this.

Running Time: 7

The Cast: 8

Performance: 8

Direction: 8

Story: 7

Script: 7

Creativity: 8

Soundtrack: 6

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

65% 7/10

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