Writer, director and star Ben Affleck brings Hollywood’s golden era of gangster to the big screen with ambition, spectacle and plenty of gunplay, in his adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s crime opus Live By Night.
As Joe Coughlin, Affleck channels his inner Clark Gable as this charming, calculating and totally cool character who never backs down. While Coughlin increasingly does some pretty nasty things to ensure power, you never feel that he’s unjustified. Of all Affleck’s performances, this one is undoubtedly his most thoughtful and introspective.
Live By Night also has a wicked supporting cast with the likes of Chris Messina as Coughlin’s right-hand man Dino Bartolo, Chris Cooper as Sheriff Irving Figgis, and Brendan Gleeson as Coughlin’s father Thomas Coughlin, who sees in his son a man who has completely turned away from a righteous path.
As great as they all are, these supporting players are greatly overshadowed by Affleck’s three leading ladies, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller and Elle Fanning. All three actresses are exceptional scene stealers, with Saldana as the alluring and intelligent rum runner (and Joe’s eventual wife) Graciela Corrales, Miller as his scheming Boston lover Emma Gould, and Fanning as would-be starlet turned evangelical preacher Loretta Figgis. Special praise must be given to Fanning, who takes on a compelling and savage part, completely taking over the screen.
If there was one thing that I loved about Live By Night, it was most definitely the film’s setting and attention to detail. From the classic vintage fedoras and pinstripe suits, to the epic car chases featuring old style Model-Ts, Live By Night has everything a gangster genre connoisseur would want.
Image: Roadshow Films