Live by Night (Blu-ray) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Crime, Drama
Director: Ben Affleck
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Duration: 129 minutes

Live by Night (Blu-ray) – Movie Review

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Good: Acting
Bad: Flucuating pace makes it hard to follow
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Ben Affleck seems to be everything these days. Not only is he a very successful actor, he’s also a producer, writer and director, jobs for which he gets applauded regularly as well. In Live by Night, he did all of the above, even though the story is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel. Nonetheless, we were quite eager to find out what the result would be of this project that he undoubtedly put a lot of time and effort in.

Live by Night

Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is a World War One veteran, living in Boston as son of Boston Police Captain Thomas Coughlin (Brendan Gleeson). An easy life, you might think, but he’s a crook and a smalltime gangster, and falls in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller). Emma is the mistress of Albert White (Robert Glenister), the boss of the Irish gang in Boston. As dangerous as the situation may be, it doesn’t stop the two from having an affair, and the sky is full of love, be it only for a little while. Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), Albert White’s rival and boss of the Italian mafia finds out about their affair, and blackmails Joe to kill White. Joe refuses though, and plans to run away with the love of his life. To be able to do so, he plans to rob a bank  together with his partner in crime Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina), but that’s when things really start to go wrong. Three police officers get killed, and Emma betrays him by luring him straight into the hands of White. White’s men beat him up, only to leave him lying there until the police arrives and puts him behind bars.

After serving a sentence that was, given he was charged with the murder of three policemen, very favorable, Joe wants nothing more than to take revenge on White. That’s why he joins Maso Pescatore’s gang, where he is recruited to further build Pescatore’s rum empire in Ybor, Tampa, Florida. That empire is being threatened by White and his men, so it seems like an ideal way for Joe to get back at White. While he’s there, he is also instructed to get drugs and gambling to Tampa, but that proves to be more difficult than he could have foreseen. As he becomes more influential around Tampa, he also finds himself new enemies, some of which come from unforeseen places.

Live by night 1

Even though a lot happens in this movie, the pace is actually quite slow most of the time. The story takes its time to grow to certain events, where then suddenly a lot of action happens at once, after a relatively long period of tranquility. After that, the story fast forwards, with a voiceover of Joe, to then focus again on another specific event in Joe’s life. This way of showing the story has its benefits, as there is time to really focus a lot on certain elements of the story. On the other hand, this also means that there are big changes in pace, and sometimes it just felt like the story went too slow, while other events were over before we were fully aware of what was happening, thus making this not the most easy film to follow.

The cast of Live by Night did a tremendous job. Ben Affleck shows that he hasn’t forgotten about his love for acting, even though he also directed and produced the film. Elle Fanning also stars in this film, be it a bit deeper into the story than we chose to tell above. Her character is a rather shy, yet strong girl, which fits into the kind of characters she has played quite a few times before. Nonetheless, she does it well, so we can only applaud her for that.

Live by night 2

The special features on Live by Night will extend your Mafioso experience by a bit more than half an hour. You’ll be treated to two featurettes, each handling the men and women that play a part in the story of this movie, which heads a bit in the direction of a making of feature, but is interesting nonetheless. Another short clip revolves around the author of this somewhat grim and violent story, again somewhat in the area of a making of clip. It’s interesting to see what the author himself thought when writing this flick, for example when it comes to racists and father figures. Last but not least, you’ll see how the creators of the movie made the old school car chase scene come to life. other than that, there’s the typical deleted scenes and commentaries which are always interesting for those who yearn more content and/or information.


Live by Night is a pretty decent film, yet is at times hard to follow due to the complicated story and the fluctuating change of pace. Nonetheless, the story is well thought out, and the acting is very commendable. If you haven’t had enough after watching this lengthy flick, there are still quite a lot of extras to enjoy. This film is definitely worth your while if you’re into mafia practices, just be sure not to drop your attention too much, as it’s quite a challenging one to follow.

Live by night 3

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Live by Night (Blu-ray) - Movie Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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