Live by Night

livebynight-posterBen Affleck’s fourth feature as a Director is a crime saga based on a Dennis Lehane novel. Its focus is on Joe Coughlin (Affleck), a returning soldier from World War 1. Following the war he does not want to take orders from anyone again and despite his police captain father quickly becomes a small time hoodlum. The film goes on to show his rise in organised crime and the important relationships he forms on the way.

Sometimes it is hard to sum up a film that is distinctly average without finding so many flaws as to make it sound worse than it is. This is a film that is reasonably engaging and a story well told, well acted with visual panache. I can not see too many people finding it more interesting than that however.

For me the biggest flaw is that by the time the credits rolled I felt as though I had missed something. I am unsure what the message was supposed to be. This film wants to be a sweeping crime saga and I think it wants to talk about what it is to be a good man or perhaps something about the turbulent melting pot of ethnicity in burgeoning America. But ultimately I think it has to make do with being a well told but generic crime film.

 Affleck however has already made a much better crime film in The Town and alongside that this pales in comparison.


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