A swing and a miss, maybe the precision should have taken into account rather than power.
Affleck’s homage to Brian De Palme-isc late ’80s gangster genre is admirable. And that is it. Appreciation draws out a nod here and never anything else. The emotions are bland and too belittled by the hip and happening of the nature it so desperately wants to be. The set rules, that Ben Affleck, the writer, director and starrer, so proudly claims to have, have boundaries visible barely on the horizon and yet we are told repetitively to care for the daily formal business or personal conflicts that is resulting into textbook character arcs.
And what Affleck actually cares about and is actually looking forward for the entire film, which is dodging the generic bullets of shock and awe therapy, is never romanticized enough to create the raw crisp moment when he asks for. In those last moments, where up till now the film was reserved, had to amp up now for a final cathartic punch, finds itself immensely immersed into a tedious procedure to offer you a sigh of relief. That peace after the storm comes with a price. A price too heavy to retract from that point.
On the other hand, the film looks ravishing. Affleck’s love for the genre, a wee bit cartoonish, but still utterly understandable, colors each frame with a poised respect in this sensitive world. Which can also be interpreted as his doom. For instance, take the trajectory of Sienna Miller’s character in the film. She carries incredible weight, power among these characters, hence she is given a seperate fast and runny first act. Now, Affleck is taking this opportunity to brim his film with stereotypical montages of some street boy or “outlaw”- as he calls himself- making into a big shot as an excuse to value her presence. Scoffing at this particular character and evaluating her into a resonating memory, Live By Night could have easily been a shorter special night.