If you’ve ever wondered what it might look like to film a script consisting entirely of aphorisms, here you go. Ben Affleck wrote, adapted Dennis Lehane’s novel and stars as Joe Coughlin, a small-time criminal in Prohibition-era Boston who gets caught up in a war between Irish and Italian gangs, eventually becoming boss of a rum-running operation in Florida. Affleck did fine work adapting contemporary-setting Lehane in Gone Baby Gone, but while he paints a vivid picture of a multi-ethnic 1930s Tampa, the period piece gets away from him as he tries to create characters who don’t seem like a collection of speeches. As Joe learns his important, potentially deadly lessons in life and love, you get exchanges like “You make your own luck.” “Sometimes. Sometimes it makes you.” Or “It’s not enough to break the rules; you have to be strong enough to make your own.” Or an extended chess metaphor that even Joe and the woman he’s flirting with (Zoe Saldana) seem to get lost in. Familiar gangster-movie scenarios need more specificity than a script that could be cut up and inserted line-by-line into fortune cookies.
Director: Ben Affleck
Producer: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Todd, Chris Brigham, Dennis Lehane and Chay Carter
Cast: Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Chris Messina, Elle Fanning, Matthew Maher, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Anthony Hall, Robert Glenister, Remo Girone and Miguel Pimentel