Live By Night is an upcoming American crime thriller film based upon the novel of the same name by Gone, Baby, Gone author Dennis Lehane. Live By Night is written and directed by Ben Affleck in his fourth directorial effort and stars Affleck, Chris Cooper, Ellie Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldana. Set in the 1920’s, Live By Night tells the story of Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain who, after moving to Tampa, becomes a bootlegger, gun-runner, and eventually a notorious gangster.
Gone, Baby, Gone was Affleck’s brilliant directorial debut. Dennis Lehane’s novels are clearly good works to adapt to film, with the Clint Eastwood-directed Mystic River being the best work the legendary badass has done as a director so far, in my opinion. Affleck is obviously a fan of Lehane’s work, as am I, so it makes sense to see the two team up again, as it were. I just began reading Live By Night today, coincidentally.
I will continue to say this whenever the subject comes up, Ben Affleck is a supremely talented director and writer. Gone, Baby, Gone remains one of my all-time favorites, and The Town and Argo are also brilliant and extremely well-made films. I have been anxiously awaiting news on Live By Night and, lo and behold, this trailer dropped yesterday right under my nose.
Affleck is possibly a better director than he is an actor, and I say that of the opinion he’s a great actor. It is clear here, as well as in his previous works, that he has an eye for the technical, as well as the emotional, aspects of filmmaking. I haven’t gotten too far into the novel, but it is clear to me, and clear to Affleck, that Joe is a good man who does bad things, the type of person that Affleck has become skillful at portraying, both on the screen and behind the camera. Joe isn’t conflicted about his life, and has no problem being a bad man, but does realize what it means for him and other people. The use of Hozier’s best song, Arsonist’s Lullaby, is appropriate, as the song concerns and arsonist who has no regrets about his compulsions, but realizes he can never allow himself to go too far.
All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons
But always keep ’em on a leash
When I was a man I thought it ended
When I knew love’s perfect ache
But my peace has always depended
On all the ashes in my wake
All you have is your fire,
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons,
But always keep ’em on a leash…
Early on in the trailer, Zoe Saldana’s Graciella Corrales tells Joe, “I don’t know if you’re cruel enough,” to which he replies that men do not have to be cruel. I am not far enough into the novel to know the main conflict, but I would imagine Joe will learn just how wrong he is over the course of escalating criminal events.
Robert Richardson serves as cinematographer for this film. He has received three Academy Awards for his work on JFK, The Aviator, and Hugo. He has been nominated for that same award a total of nine times for various films. He frequently collaborates with Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. Live By Night will certainly be a gorgeous film, and I see a hint of what may be a single take gunfight in the film, so hopefully that happens.
Live By Night premieres January 13th, 2017. Every director, even great ones like Affleck with a perfect track record, have to fail at some point, but I doubt Live By Night will be anything less than a great movie. It is probably my most anticipated movie coming out in the next six months and I can’t wait to see it.