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Film / Live by Night

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Live by Night is a 2016 American gangster film adapted from Dennis Lehane's 2012 novel of the same name, directed by and starring Ben Affleck. The cast also includes Chris Messina, Zoe Saldaña, Chris Cooper, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Remo Girone, Robert Glenister and Matthew Maher.

It chronicles the criminal career of Joe Coughlin (Affleck), a World War I veteran of Irish descent and the prodigal son of a Boston police officer, from his debuts as a small time robber and naive lover of a gangster's mistress during The Roaring '20s to his rise in The Mafia as a successful illegal booze producer in Florida during the Prohibition.

Provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: In the movie, Joe claims he participated in the war. In The Given Day (which takes place in 1919), Joe is 12 years old.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Danny Coughlin, Joe's older brother and the hero of the novel The Given Day, was Demoted to Extra in the novel to begin with. He doesn't appear in the film at all, he is only mentioned.
    • Affleck regular Titus Welliver was cast as Tim Hickey, Albert White's rival at whose behest Joe robs White's card game, but he didn't make the final cut.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Maso Pescatore and Albert White end up allying themselves.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Joe has chosen the life of a gangster, but uses his illegal business' money to improve the life of the Cuban community in Tampa, and helps the Figgis family after Loretta's mishap. Meanwhile, Albert White and Maso Pescatore are ruthless and racist crime bosses. And then there's The Klan... What's more, Joe refuses to be involved in drug trafficking, knowing full well what it did to people like Loretta.
  • Car Chase: A string of bad luck while Joe and his pals rob a bank as a One Last Job gets the police very closely after them. They split up in two cars at one point to improve their chances.
  • The Don: Maso Pescatore is the chief of the Italian mafia in Boston.
  • Driven to Madness: Chief Figgis' madness starts when he learns that Loretta (his daughter) got into a really messy affair involving sex, mutilations and drugs instead of going to Hollywood to start her acting career. Then he completely loses it when she dies, repeats his "Repent!" Madness Mantra constantly, takes two guns and attacks Joe's home, killing Graciela and getting himself killed by Joe in the process.
  • The Fundamentalist: Loretta becomes one after her sex and drug mishap and starts preaching against fornication, booze and gambling, which doesn't exactly suit Joe's casino project.
  • Genre Shift: Starts as an In Love with the Gangster's Girl story set in Boston, then turns into a Only in Florida crime epic.
  • The Irish Mob: Albert White's gang. Joe himself has Irish origins but wants nothing to do with organized crime (not in small part because he robs their card games). That is, until he finds himself working for Pescatore's Italian gang.
  • The Klan: Joe's main problem in Tampa once the business he heads there on behalf of Pescatore starts to flourish. Considering his Cuban co-workers as equals, "fornicating" with Graciela and being a baptized Catholic make Joe a target of choice for the local Klan.
  • Madness Mantra: Chief Figgis keeps repeating "Repent! Repent! Repent!" after the death of his daughter.
  • The Mafia: Joe ends up working for the Pescatore crime family, which seeks to create an illegal alcohol business in Florida.
  • Mob War: Joe gets caught in the war between White and Pescatore at the beginning.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Joe is on the receiving end of a brutal beating for having an affair with Emma, Albert White's mistress, courtesy of one of White's thugs. It culminates with a kick in his groin from behind while he's down. It's so painful it makes him throw up on the spot.
  • Not Quite Dead: Emma is revealed to be alive some years after her affair with Joe. She faked her death in order to escape the wrath of Albert White.
  • Period Piece: Comes with being set during The Roaring '20s and The Great Depression.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Both Maso Pescatore and Albert White are fairly racist crime bosses who express contempt for Joe because he works with Cubans and married one, but R.D. Pruitt and his fellows of The Klan really take the cake.
  • Red Right Hand: R.D. Pruitt, Tampa's Grand Dragon's Number Two, has an ugly cleft lip and speaks with a lisp. Joe suggests it might be the result of inbreeding to mock Pruitt.
  • Tag Line: "Joe was once a good man".
  • Threat Backfire: When R.D. Pruitt decides to harass Joe's businesses for more money after Joe already negotiated a percentage with him to leave them alone (the deal was 15%, Pruitt demands 60%), Joe goes directly to Virgil Beauregard (the local Grand Dragon of the Klan) to make him talk to Pruitt. When Joe makes clear that the consequences for Pruitt will be death if he doesn't stops, Beauregard threatens back with a "We Are Everywhere" speech, how the Klan has connections with many people, including a judge], and that if Joe gets in a fight with them they will "rain bloody hellfire on you and all you love". Joe's response:
    Joe: So, you're threatening me with people who are more powerful than you?
    Beauregard: Exactly.
    Joe: What the fuck am I talking to you for?
    (Dion pulls out his .45 and empties it on Beauregard's face).