The problem with Live by Night is that it is both too much and never enough. Ben Affleck, who has proved himself a strong storyteller in his screenwriting and directing skills, certainly has a fine ambition in his latest effort, but it simply never seems to pan out the way he originally imagined it. This is to the point that Live by Night is as big, extravagant, and sexy a gangster drama as one could hope to get made in the studio system today and yet the story is nowhere near as compelling as it should be to make the amount of effort put into the costumes, production design, and other period details matter. The question on my mind as the film came to its one too many endings-none of which are satisfactory, I might add-was, "how did this happen?" How did a filmmaker such as Affleck, with a story he himself adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel (Gone, Baby, Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island, The Drop), in this time period, and with a star-studded cast that features stand-out performances from the likes of Chris Messina and Elle Fanning end up sinking as quickly as a dead body attached to a boulder in a river? There is seemingly never a clear answer as to how so many promising parts can come together to form a subpar whole, but with Live by Night the majority of as much seems to fall on the script never knowing exactly what type of story it wants to tell and as a result, the momentum of the pacing never finding its footing well enough to keep viewers invested. There is always more material in a novel than a two hour movie can handle and it seems rather than relay what was more or less the same story the source material was telling through the prism of a single perspective or theme that Affleck instead attempted to cram in as much of Lehane's novel as he could resulting in the film feeling more than overstuffed while still leaving the viewer hungry for more. When talking of adapting a book for the screen director David Fincher said, "The book is many things. You have to choose which aspect you want to make a movie from." It seems Affleck might have learned a thing or two from his Gone Girl director as this lack of a singular viewpoint is exactly what Live by Night is missing; delivering so many characters, ideas, and plot strands it's hard to care about any of them.