Live by Night

2017 | 129 minutes | Rated R

Live by Night suggests that Ben Affleck may be on one of his many upswings. It’s a far from perfect movie—I hesitate to even call it a good one—but there’s effort and care and ambition within its muddled narrative. Severely condensed from the middle volume in Dennis Lehane’s three-book gangster series, the film has all the problems inherent in cramming a 400-page epic into a two-hour runtime. Fortunately, it also hangs on to some of the things that make Lehane a superb writer—namely, a fresh framing of gangster tropes with an eye to historical accuracy, and a tight interweaving of plot and character that give stretches of Affleck’s film real momentum. There are scenes in Live by Night that’re as good as anything I’ve seen on a screen this past year. There are also numerous sequences that are flat-out baffling.

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Film Credits
Director
Ben Affleck
Cast
Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Chris Messina, Elle Fanning, Matthew Maher, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Anthony Hall, Robert Glenister, Remo Girone, Miguel Pimentel