A film that has everything going for it except an interesting story worth telling.
OVERALL SCORE – 2/5
Live By Night is a 2017 crime drama written and directed by Ben Affleck, based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. It stars Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina and Chris Cooper. The film follows the story of a bootlegger who morphs into a notorious gangster.
The one question I want to ask Ben Affleck, one of my very favorite working directors, is, What Happened? On the surface, the film has everything going for it. A story by Dennis Lehane (the man who wrote the original novels for a lot of great movies which include Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone etc), a rise to power narrative, great actors, Affleck behind the camera and so much more. The film ends up being so very slow, which by all accounts it shouldn’t be.
This is one of the most gorgeous films one can watch. The production design, the camera work, the sets, the hair and makeup (except for the fact that they forgot to put the age on actors as time went by) are all on point. I cannot stress how beautiful the film looks. The acting is on point throughout the film. Brendan Gleeson and Chris Cooper are always welcome on screen. The film is very well directed. There a whole bunch of extremely innovative shots which are bound to linger the mind of most film nerds, including me. The film does have a whole bunch of funny lines and many themes which would connect to different sets of audience members. The action sequences set in the prohibition era are just gold. There a good bunch of intelligence that went into those scenes and it shows.
So much going right expect the one fatal flaw.
The film moves at the pace of the molasses the lead characters bootleg. There is a spectacular film hidden inside this plodding end product. I have a little theory as to why the film fails to engage. In almost all Ben Affleck directorials or starrers in recent memory, there have always been engaging supporting or lead characters. Be it The Town, Argo, Gone Girl or, to a lesser extent, The Accountant, all of them have a whole host of interesting characters that the audience can relate to if not to Ben Affleck in the lead. This film has no such characters. The actors are all great but the characters written for them are not. The film is the story of one man who rises to power surrounded by other people, but when the one man is Affleck and his character has no discernable arc, the film grinds to halt for the whole of its second act and 70% of the third.
On a personal note, I feel horrible criticizing Ben Affleck. The man transformed himself from a laughing stock to an Oscar winner and to arguably one the best actors to play Batman. But this film bored me to tears. When one walks out of the cinema hall and cannot for the life of him/her remember a large chunk of what happened in the film they saw without putting in some serious effort to jog one’s memory, it’s just unforgivable on the part of the film for not being entertaining.
P.S. – Affleck’s accent is just all over the place and is quite distracting.
OVERALL SCORE – 2/5
Please LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT and FOLLOW while you suggest films for me to watch which are not as slow as this one.