(K. Brent Tomer),
BEN AFFLECK’S lavish new gangster epic is the kind of ambitious and expensive passion project you’re allowed to make only if your last film won an Academy Award. Written, directed and co-produced by Mr Affleck, who is present in almost every scene, “Live by Night” is a long, sprawling underworld drama, stuffed with top-notch actors and handsome period details, from vintage cars and swanky nightclubs to spectacular prohibition-era cityscapes. The silk-tie budget alone could have funded Mr Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone”. Presumably, the accountants at Warner Bros felt that they could afford to be generous to Mr Affleck after “Argo” netted the studio a Best Picture Oscar in 2013. But their munificence hasn’t done him any favours. Adapted from a novel by Dennis Lehane, “Live by Night” doesn’t have the leanness and precision of Mr Affleck’s earlier work. Instead, it seems as if he couldn’t decide between five potential films, so they told him to make all of them at once.
One sign of its over-ambition is that most of the shots in the trailer are dispensed with in the first 20 minutes. Indeed, half of them are crammed into an…Continue reading