This film really should have been great.
Live By Night was directed by Ben Affleck, who has been amazing as a director, and it was released in December in limited release as if it were up for Oscar contention. There shouldn’t be any Oscars for this film.
This was not a good movie.
Set in Prohibition time, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is a low-level crook who has tried to avoid becoming a gangster. He is a son of a police captain so he gets some extra breaks. However, when his latest bank robbery led to the death of some police officers, Joe cannot avoid prison. After getting out, he gives up the ghost and joins in the gangster life anyhow. Moving to Florida, Joe leads the illegal rum trade.
Oh, there was a relationship with Joe and the wife/moll/girlfriend of mobster Albert White (Robert Glenister). She was played by Emma Gould. There was zero chemistry with ben Affleck and it made no sense. Then she died.
Then, later Joe gets involved with another woman, a Cuban woman named Graciella Suarez (Zoe Saldana). This relationship did not work either.
The character of Joe was widely inconsistent. At first he was never going to be in the mob. Then he was in the mob and doing anything he wants. Then he wasn’t a killer. Later on he is killing everyone. You never knew what this character was going to do next because the writing was so poor.
Then with this film, there were rapid switches in plot. It was like they took a bunch of plot points and threw them into the film. At first, the film was a love story with Joe and his love. Then it became a revenge movie but it immediately changed from that into a crime drama. Then, suddenly, there was the Klu Klux Klan and it was a racial storyline. After the Klan was gone, then we got a female Christian preacher story fighting against the casino. There are so many other plots involved here that this movie did not know what it was.
Be Affleck did not seem to be giving his best work here either. Maybe he just did not fit the part, but I have seen many more performances better by Affleck than this one.
This could have been better, should have been better, but it was not. This film was too long and jumped around too much. I do not think that they knew the theme that they wanted to have because the message was so mixed up. Quite a disappointment.