Ben Affleck used to be a name that was synonym with lousy acting and cheesy American movies. From his rotten performance as a superhero (Daredevil) to the chick-flick, box-office flop Gigli, the man was draining himself to the bottom of Hollywood entertainment.
So he went away for a year or two … and came back stronger than ever!
Ever since his departure, Ben Affleck is a changed man. He’s become a slightly better actor and truly excels as a drama filmmaker. Live by night is his fourth outing as a director … and he’s only ever becoming better and better.
Live by night may not be Ben Affleck‘s best movie – that honor is reserved for The Town – but it’s a very good period piece nonetheless. The story is about one Joe Coughlin, a Boston gangster in the 1930’s during the Prohibition era, trying to make a living by virtually every crime there is a law for. Illegal booze seems to be his favorite vice …
The movie features some top-notch acting, especially by Chris Cooper and the ever-graceful Zoe Saldana, the latter who plays a distinctly vulnerable part of the colored wife to a white Christian in a time when the KKK was growing stronger.
Make no mistake: Live by night is a violent crime movie, though the amounts of blood have been kept at a reasonable low.
What makes Live by night so good is that you get a front-row seat in the life of the main character. From his early bank robbing days to his rise as a powerful mobster, Joe Coughlin isn’t a man who’s shy to pave his way with money and blood …
Of course, if you’re going to tell a story about the violence in America you need guns … and lots of it! Live by night doesn’t disappoint.
There are a few very good gun fights, each more violent than the other. The raw reality of a town riddled with fear, and a criminal who doesn’t know how to stop doing what he does best.
But the movie also has a fair amount of beauty – and that’s precisely the reason why Live by night is one of the finest crime movies in recent years.
As for Ben Affleck: he will never be a great actor, so don’t get your hopes up. But as a director he makes one decent movie after the other. Which begs the question: Is this the same Ben Affleck as before?’
Did you know?
Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the lead role, but decided to produce this film instead.
Give it to me short:
Live by night will never achieve the same greatness or admiration as ‘The untouchables’ or ‘Casino’, but it’s easily one of the finest period piece crime dramas of recent years. It shows that Hollywood can still make an original story with great acting, simple yet effective camerawork and no use of computer-effects. The way Ben Affleck dressed up his movie is exemplary. You really feel as if you’ve stepped into a time machine and become a visitor to the 1930’s of the old USA. There’s white trash cowboys, cool gangsters with guns and fabulous classic cars …
The movie’s only weakness is probably that the story isn’t always that strong. Furthermore Ben Affleck isn’t the kind of actor who can carry an entire movie on his shoulders, but that’s ok. That’s where Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson and Zoe Saldana come in. Perhaps the movie could’ve been a bit shorter. There’s a few slow scenes that drag the action, but overall this is one decent movie you will enjoy when craving for a true movie experience with actual characters of flesh and blood. Congrats, Ben Affleck, you did it again!