Following a series of ups and downs in the early 2000s, Ben Affleck began to turn his career around by moving behind the camera. In 2007, his adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Gone Baby Gone earned widespread praise and announced Affleck as a directorial force. He further impressed people with the crime drama The Town, before winning Best Picture for his latest effort, Argo. In the years since, Affleck has earned high marks for his acting performances in David Fincher’s Gone Girl and Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but cinephiles have been eager to see what Affleck would do for a followup as a helmsman.
For his next project as a director, Affleck is once again returning to the world of Lehane with the Prohibition Era crime drama Live by Night. In it, Affleck stars as Joe Coughlin, the son of a Boston police captain. Coughlin relocates to Tampa, Florida and becomes a bootlegger and notorious gangster. The film also features Scott Eastwood, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Chris Cooper, and Sienna Miller (among others). Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for the movie, which you can watch above.
The preview does an excellent job of establishing the tone of the narrative, another gritty crime drama that should fit right in Affleck’s wheelhouse as a director. It’s easy to make comparisons to The Town, as it appears Affleck’s Coughlin is someone involved in the criminal underworld, but has a heart of gold under a tough exterior. In the beginning of the trailer, Saldana’s Graciella Suarez asks Coughlin if he’s cruel enough to survive in this particular life. It sets up an intriguing narrative in which Coughlin attempts to make his own rules as he works his way up, dealing with the various pressures life throws his way. He’s going to make his fair share of enemies, but he’s up for the challenge.
In addition to the trailer, WB also unveiled the first poster, which you can see below:
As stated above, Live by Night marks the second time Affleck is bringing a Dennis Lehane novel to the big screen, and it’s safe to say he has a solid handle on the author’s style. From a technical perspective, the film looks gorgeous thanks to the cinematography by Academy Award winning director of photography Robert Richardson. The 1920s have come roaring back to life here, and Live by Night could very well be Affleck’s most ambitious outing as a filmmaker (in regards to both the story and moviemaking techniques). All in all, the film looks very promising and should be another winner for Affleck. He’d be hard pressed to top Argo, but he could have something special in Live by Night. The Batman is in good hands.
Over the summer, WB moved the film from October 2017 to January 2017, a shift that made many think a limited Oscars qualifying run in December 2016 was in store. Interestingly enough, the promotional materials make no mention of a platform release, simply saying the movie is coming out in 2017. The studio could still be planning a strategy for awards season, so it remains to be seen. Regardless, viewers won’t want to miss Live by Night when it comes out in theaters.
Live by Night opens in U.S. theaters January 13, 2017.