Live by Night

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Live by Night is a new film starring the multi-talented Ben Affleck. This film, also written, produced, and directed by Affleck, pays homage to the 1920s gangster era. Based on the 2012 novel of the same name, key issues that shaped the Roaring 20s – think Prohibition, racial segregation, and religious prejudice – are weaved throughout, giving the illusion that this flick is more than car chases and gun-battles.

The story begins in Boston, against the backdrop of illegal liquor trade, where rival Irish and Italian crime gangs wrangle for power. Regarding himself an outlaw, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) works for the violent Albert White (Robert Glenister) – head of the Irish faction – and embarks on a dangerous love affair with his mistress, Emma Gould (Sienna Miller). The pair’s plans for the future are thwarted once Italian Mafia boss, Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), discovers their secret and uses it to spark a violent chain of events, culminating with Coughlin in prison, thirsty for revenge.

Fresh out of incarceration and finding that an unlikely alliance with Pescatore aligns with his desire for revenge, Coughlin heads to Florida for two reasons: to destroy Albert White and begin his life anew. Upon arrival, he is embroiled in a tapestry of love, deceit, narcotics, betrayal and violence on his journey to the top. But just how far is he willing to go to get what he wants?

Despite Affleck’s careful direction and on-screen chemistry with his co-stars, the movie noticeably shifts through several distinct story arcs without the seamlessness of a classic drama, yet the waves of action work to pull you back into the intrigue and suspense.

The location settings of Florida in the late 1920s are breathtaking and vibrant, while the dialogue in parts felt almost too contemporary, with a distinct sense that the style of language used felt like it came from a different era altogether.

Live by Night is an enjoyable piece of cinema despite of its flaws, and you will still find yourself thoroughly entertained.


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