The Painter and the Thief
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It has a solid cast, impecable production values and visual style, but these get lost in a messy and convoluted story that marks a disappointing in Ben Affleck's directorial career. No wonder why it was a box office bomb.
You probably won't turn it off when it comes on cable. But the material needs to be bigger, more momentous, as well as more intimate.
Joe Coughlin, the son of a Police Chief returned from fighting in the First World War an outlaw. He earns his money robbing banks and illegal poker games. After one particular robbery he comes to the attention of the 2 gangsters who run the town he is robbing from, 2 men who are at war with each other and have use for a man of Joe's talents. However, he refuses to work for them, is betrayed and seeks vengeance by rising through the ranks of the criminal underworld himself.
This story is based on a crime saga by Dennis Lehane who for the most part writes decent thrillers, the only issue is the film adaptations of his work are hit and miss. I thought Mystic River and The Drop were very good. Shutter Island and this one, not so much. The film looks good, the costumes are great and there is a pretty exciting and spectacular car chase near the start of the movie but the rest of it just plods along. Ben Affleck was never really believable in the main role, the supporting cast were so-so and it's a shame because it's a decent story, it just needed a better cast and screenplay.
Trying too hard to be “relevant,” it falls flat. The biggest problem is its lack of interesting characters. Affleck directed three great films before this dud. He’d do well to maintain that pace for the rest of his career.
I enjoyed this movie. I don't really know why but I love a good gangster flick and this one kept me entertained.
If you like subject matter you should love this
"Last Man Standing"....just nowhere near as good.
Live by night looks good on paper with Ben Affleck behind the camera but the end result is pretty average. The movie starts off and ends OK but the middle part of the movie slugs through with poor pacing, boring sequences, and Ben Affleck stale performance. The production value is great the time period with great cars and costumes are all wonderful but there’s better gangster movies out there.
A swing and a miss, maybe the precision should have taken into account rather than power.
Live By Night
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.