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Live By Night: Engaging epic crime drama

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Film: Live By Night 

Cast: Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Remo Girone, Robert Glenister, Mathew Maher

Director: Ben Affleck


The talented Oscar-winning actor-director Ben Affleck worked hard on this film whose title is self-explanatory. Reuniting with Gone Baby Gone writer Dennis Lehane, Affleck adapts the best-selling author’s powerful crime novel of the same name to spin an engrossing tale of the Irish-Italian mafia wars in Prohibition era USA.

The principals are WW1 vet-turned-criminal (Joe Coughlin essayed by Affleck) and the object of his misguided affections, Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) the two-timing pillow-partner of Bostonian Irish mobster Albert White (Robert Glenister). Going further downhill, Joe, the son of police chief, no less (Brendan Gleeson) goes to work for mafia capo Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone) as a bootlegger in sunny Florida.

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There, he succumbs to Cuban lovely Graciella Corrales (Zoe Saldana), and attracts the ire of the Ku Klux Klan which just happens to be connected to law enforcers and politicians with vested interests in the mob’s plans for gambling in Florida.

How, the viewer may well ask him/herself as your reviewer often has, do morally defective entities like the KKK, not to speak of the erstwhile white regime in apartheid driven South Africa, even consider themselves to be Christian? Mercifully, the narrative doesn’t flinch from critiquing capitalism, ambition, hypocrisy, rage, sin and redemption through plot and characters like the evangelical preacher (Elle Fanning) whose dad also happens to be a lawman (Chris Cooper).

For those unconcerned about moral complications, Live by Night has exciting chases, brutal assaults and bloody shoot-outs before it concludes in a deadly showdown. That and the fabulous cast, meticulous period design and great camerawork makes Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, worth the viewing.