Movie Review: Ben Affleck gets serious about his pulp fiction in Live By Night

Ben Affleck’s first film as a director, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, was adapted from a novel by Boston crime fiction scribe Dennis Lehane. A little less than a decade later, Affleck returns to Lehane with a drastically elevated status as a filmmaker, having subsequently made two hits for Warner Bros.—one of which, Argo, won the Best Picture Oscar a few years back. So far, all of Affleck’s films as a director mix pulp with prestige, and Live By Night is no exception. It’s a lavish, decade-spanning period piece about what amounts not to a stirring microcosm of the American dream but the petty criminal squabbles that decorate its story’s surface.

What a surface, though: On a purely technical level, Affleck is only getting better. He and Warner both clearly see their relationship as a successor to Clint Eastwood’s longtime association with the studio …

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