- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : Live by Night

| January 20, 2017

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Live by Night!

By the way, I know that I announced that I would be reviewing Dogtooth today. But between getting sick and getting slammed with school, I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule. So I’m reviewing this film this week. Sorry. I’ll review Dogtooth some other time.

I did the math and I’ve spent 4,260 hours of my life watching movies. That is half of a year. Total, I have spent two percent of my life watching movies. I am currently twenty years old as of writing this review. But when I left the theater from watching this film, I was shocked that I hadn’t aged three years while watching this film. It is that poorly paced. My god.

Live by Night is a two-hour long film, and Ben Affleck’s fourth directorial film. I will say that I am a pretty big Affleck fan. I have loved to adored his three previous films, as a matter of fact, I rewatched The Town earlier this week and absolutely adored it. After Argo, I thought I would be on board for anything Affleck directed next. And when I found out that he was directing a gangster film (one of my favorite sub-genres) I was immediately excited. Then the trailer came out. And I didn’t know what it was about. All I knew was that Ben Affleck played a gangster of some kind and it took place in the Prohibition era (an era of gangster films I’m kind of against). But I didn’t care that I couldn’t figure out what it was about, it was Ben Affleck and Gangsters! What could go wrong! After seeing the film, I still couldn’t tell you what this film is about. So yeah. That went wrong.

Live by Night, the four and a half-hour-long film follows the Irish son of Police Captain in Boston as he descends into the life of a gangster. There really isn’t much else beyond that. It seems silly to call it this, but Live by Night, the six hours and ten-minute long film, might be best described as a slice of life gangster film. At first, you think that it will be a revenge film, which I was super on board for! Ben Affleck going against the Irish mob for leaving him to die in prison! Yeah! Badass! Let’s do it! But then Ben Affleck goes to jail, gets sad, then moves to Florida. And he doesn’t really give a crap about the guys that tried to kill him. But whatever. Live by Night, the twelve-hour long film feels a lot like the Mafia video game series. You follow this one Mafia/Mob member as he goes from mission to mission and does the daily work of a mob member. But without one big overall story.

The two things that continuously bugged me about Live by Night, the 25-hour long film, were the sound mixing and Ben Affleck’s accent. Both are all over the place or nonexistent. There is a narration throughout the film that I hated because although it was all exposition, I still had trouble following what was happening. And because in the beginning I just couldn’t hear it. Some scenes I could hear the narration, some scenes I had to listen real close to figure out what he was saying. By the end of Live by Night, the 36-hour long film, I stopped paying attention to the narration because I honestly just didn’t care anymore. Ben Affleck, who plays the son of an Irish man, and it appears that his whole family is Irish and that everyone around him is Irish, and all of these people have Irish accents, yet Ben Affleck doesn’t have an Irish accent. Except he does in some scene and/or words. I honestly couldn’t tell if Ben Affleck was Irish or not. But again, I really don’t care.

With this being based on a novel, one that I have no read, I imagine things were cut from the film. And with that, there are part of Live by Night, the 47-hour long film, that I see no purpose for, but I imagine played a much larger role in the novel. For example, Elle Fanning and Chris Cooper’s characters. I know why they were in the film, and they are a plot point. But that’s all they ever felt like. They just served as a way to get from Point A to Point B. They didn’t feel like characters. They didn’t feel like people. They felt like plot points.

You could argue that you might ignore all of these problems in Live by Night, the 68-hour long film. Maybe you just want some mindless action and gangster violence on screen. There is typically one gangster film a year and you need your fix. I get it. But don’t get it here. The thing with action films that you don’t get with this film is the sense of why it is happening. None of the characters are developed enough for you to really care when a shoot out is happening. Theoretically, you should care where there is a shoot out because you want Person A to be killed and Person B to survive. But in Live by Night, the 139-hour long film, not only did I not care who was shooting at who, but I also didn’t know who they were. In the final shootout of the film, some of the choreography was nice, but I only knew the Ben Affleck character. I knew of the other characters, but I couldn’t tell which character was which and there were points where I didn’t know who died when I’m pretty sure I was supposed to.

I’m willing to give Ben Affleck the benefit of the doubt on this one. I’ve read there were significant cuts to the film. To the point where entire characters were cut, such as Ben Affleck’s character’s brother, who was played by Scott Eastwood. So maybe there was some studio meddling. If 2016 will go down as anything, it will be the year we learned that Warner Brothers likes to mess around with a directors vision, so I won’t completely eliminate the possibility.

But Live by Night, the seven-year long film, is still pretty bad. And I have actively told people that they shouldn’t waste their time with it. Go watch The Town. Go watch Gone Baby Gone. Go watch Argo. Those films are some of the best stories and films made in the 2000s. This will not join the ranks, but that doesn’t discredit Ben Affleck’s accomplishments as a director. He’s still good, but he had to release something to keep him in check.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.

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