Live By Night ⭐⭐1/2

In which, Ben Affleck proves he is a better director than a writer or an actor. There is solid direction here and some scenes really sparkle. He even wows with some great stunts/special effect works that are beautifully and effectively composed. To the film’s benefit, but not so much for Affleck the actor, he is surrounded by a cast that outshines him in almost every scene, especially worth noting is Sienna Miller’s memorable performance as the Irish mole/femme fatale. On screen, Affleck’s Joe Coughlin often looks gormless or expressionless in ill-fitting suits that make him look distractedly bloated. And speaking of bloated, the other problem is his script. This could have been an effective pastiche of a Scorsese noir, a familiar but not unsatisfying tale of rages to riches in a mobsters’ world during Prohibition, but obstacles and problems are as swiftly and easily resolved as they are thrown in Joe’s way and when heavier issues such as race and religion are introduced for dramatic effect, both the story and Affleck’s acting cannot cope and the film soon buckles under the weight of that seriousness. Amongst the many endings towards the last 15-20 minutes of the film, it suddenly believes itself to be Oscar-baiting drama, striving for poignancy and fails as the audience rolls their eyes collectively and groans. What could’ve been half decent instead ends on a mawkish, if not laughable, note.

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