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Live by Night

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MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity.
Not recommended
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Crime Thriller Drama Adaptation
2 hr. 8 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2016 (limited)
January 13, 2017 (wide—2,822 theaters)
DVD: March 21, 2017
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Relevant Issues

rebelling against one’s father

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

sin and the fall of man

organized crime / mobsters / gangsters


death of wife

male rivalry


living as if vice were a virtue

born again christian / evangelical / evangelists

goodness and righteousness

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Ethnicity Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Featuring Ben AffleckJoe Coughlin
Scott Eastwood … Danny Coughlin
Zoe SaldanaGraciella Suarez
Elle FanningLoretta Figgis
Chris Sullivan … Brendan Loomis
Sienna MillerEmma Gould
Anthony Michael Hall … Gary Smith
Brendan GleesonThomas Coughlin
Titus Welliver … Tim Hickey
Chris Messina … Dion Bartolo
Chris CooperChief Irving Figgis
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Director Ben Affleck—“Argo” (2012), “The Town” (2010)
Producer Appian Way
Pearl Street Films
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Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyrighted, Warner Bros. Pictures

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “This is a big budget adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 2012 prohibition era crime novel Live By Night.

The Boston-based story centers on Joe Coughlin, who rebels against his cop captain father and becomes a career criminal, eventually joining a mobster. He rises up the ranks as the action moves to Tampa, Florida, then Cuba and features rumrunners, femme fatales, betrayals and good men committing plenty of sin. Boston, 1926. The ‘20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one‒neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover‒can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.”

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

Volunteer reviewer needed for this movie

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Movie Critics
…an old-fashioned, unexpectedly satisfying crime drama that reworks gangster clichés to mostly good effect… improves on the Dennis Lehane novel…
Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International
…lavish aesthetics… It’s not a bad film… a vanity project that works, sometimes…
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
…stylish… Ben Affleck's old-school gangster film chokes on ambition… overloaded take on Cagney-era crime flicks has enough material in it for a half-dozen movies… [3/4]
Peter Travers,·Rolling Stone
…disappointment… Affleck is not at his best here… The movie is watchable enough but no nail-biter… engrossing but unexceptional. …the more nagging hole in the thriller is Affleck himself, playing a tough guy with a sense of right and wrong, in a stolid performance that takes up a lot of space without packing the necessary gravitas. …
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
…almost no noir touchstone goes unturned… It doesn’t always succeed; “Live…” often feels like 10 pounds of narrative puppy crammed in a five-pound bag, rushing its fine cast… [B-]
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
…a pile of parts… Somewhere inside the 128-minute “Live by Night” is a reasonably solid 168-minute movie struggling to get out. …Ben Affleck’s slapdash and fragmented assemblage limps along…
Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
…this Prohibition crime saga doesn’t zing… It's like seeing the ghost of a terrific movie: All the pieces are in place, yet as you're watching it (or thinking back on it afterwards), there doesn't seem to be quite enough there there.…
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
…“Live by Night” is a messy, unfocused movie about ambition, lost ideals, corrupt men and a thief whose idea of life on his own terms means pulling the trigger. …
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
…mediocre… a slow dull film…
Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News
“Live by Night” is barely breathing. …slow, stubbornly serious… Ben Affleck mob drama “Live By Night” fires blanks…
Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News
…a flaccid, fumbling dud… [2/4]
Rex Reed, The New York Observer
…bad people in a bad movie… totally unacceptable…
Ted Baehr, Movieguide

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