Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Live by Night Movie Review

Live by Night (2016)
Rent Live by Night on Amazon Video // Read the book 
Written by: Ben Affleck (screenplay), Dennis Lehane (based on the novel by)
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper
Rated: R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in Baltimore during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.

As I watched this, I could tell this was probably a pretty good book, but that doesn't always translate well to movies. There's too much going on, too many story lines you can tell were crammed in because they were part of the book. Affleck is doing too much with producing, writing, directing, and starring. It comes off as a vanity project and his character isn't that interesting.
Affleck is hesitant to embrace being a bad guy. His character is a criminal but also a hero and he shouldn't be. It seems like more vanity. This is Boardwalk Empire with a Nucky being an all around good guy and that just doesn't work.
Skip it.

Lehane wrote the novel that inspired Afflek's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone (2007). Lehane has written for The Wire (2002-08) and Boardwalk Empire (2010-14). His books have also inspired the movies Mystic River (2003) and Shutter Island (2010).

I like the direction of this movie, but I have to wonder if Affleck is doing too much. Would focusing on just one role make him more proficient? I imagine it would.
Affleck's character continually makes the distinction that he's an outlaw and not a gangster. Affleck seems afraid to play a truly bad guy. I don't know if it's the book or his personal preference, but if he embraced being a bad guy it would make a more dynamic character. Instead the character is hung up on being Batman, I mean a good guy. Affleck is the wrong actor for the role. He always exudes a certain amount of confidence and arrogance, but it just doesn't work here. He's a James Bond type.

This movie is a less interesting Boardwalk Empire. They share a lot of the same features, but the protagonist in this is much more boring. Elle Fanning's character must have had a much larger arc in the book. She goes from Hollywood hopeful to junkie and evangelist in record time.Her role in the movie feels severely truncated and should have just been cut out. This seems like it might have been a good book, but it's not a good movie. There isn't enough time to fit in the book's story, or what I assume is the book's story. This movie should have focused on just a few parts instead of shoehorning everything in. Without reading the book, I'm willing to suggest this story fails the book. Maybe Affleck did this movie because he likes wearing fedoras. That and he must like seeing his named credited as many times as possible.

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