Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Film Review: "Live by Night" (2016).

"What you put out into this world will always come back to you, but it never comes back how you predict."
This is the nature of Live by Night. This crime drama film written, directed, co-produced and starring Ben Affleck, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. The film follows a former WWI vet and self-proclaimed anti-establishment outlaw. Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him and those close to him, Joe heads down a risky path that goes against his upbringing and his own moral code. Leaving the cold Boston winter behind, he and his reckless crew turn up the heat in Tampa. And while revenge may taste sweeter than the molasses that infuses every drop of illegal rum he runs, Joe will learn that it comes at a price.

Warner Bros. acquired the rights to Dennis Lehane's novel in April 2012, with the intention of developing the project for Leonardo DiCaprio to star and produce, through his Appian Way Productions. However, he decided to produce the film instead. In October 2012, it was announced that Ben Affleck would direct, write, and star in the film. In summer 2013, Affleck begun scouting locations for the film, visiting Tampa, Florida and Lawrence, Massachusetts. In August 2013, it was reported that production would be pushed back from the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2014, due to Affleck's acting commitment for Gone Girl (2014). According to Affleck, he delayed the project because he always wanted to get a chance to work with David Fincher. In summer 2014, production resumed, with Affleck visiting various locations in Brunswick, Georgia. In July 2015, the film was officially given the green-light. By December, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Miguel, Max Casella, Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Michael Hall, and Titus Welliver had joined the cast. Principal photography began in October 2015 and concluded in February 2016. Filming initially began in Georgia, Hampton Island near Riceboro, on Tybee Island, in Savannah, and at Fort Pulaski National Monument. But due to tax rebates, the production ultimately moved to Florida. Then onwards, locations included Lawrence, North Andover, Boston's North End and Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Wilmington, California. For the look of the film, originally, Cinematographer Robert Richardson wanted to shoot the film with the Ultra Panavision 70 anamorphic lenses he had recently used on The Hateful Eight (2015), but Panavision had already rented them for use on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).

The film also stars Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper. Despite the cast giving solid performances, it seems as though this time round Affleck has assembled a cast the pale in comparison to his casts in his previous efforts.

Live by Night is another solidly constructed and sharply orchestrated effort from Affleck. However, it's an exhausted and faulty enterprise all the same; a film that leaves no cliche untrampled. Ultimately, it does not quite live up to Affleck's ever-growing impressive body of work.

Simon says Live by Night receives:

Also, see my review for Argo.

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