Dennis Lehane’s 2012 novel Live By Night is the author’s second tale of the Coughlin family, following 2008’s The Given Day. But don’t be mistaken: this isn’t a sequel. It follows Joe Coughlin, the youngest member of the Coughlin family (and only a minor side character in The Given Day) as he breaks from his family’s respectable pedigree of policemen to become one of the most prominent figures of Boston’s rum running scene during the Prohibition era.
I’m a huge fan of Dennis Lehane’s work. I’ll read anything he writes, and will watch any film based on his work. (Shutter Island is one of my favorite films, and last year’s The Drop impressed me as well.)
I was excited to finally read Live By Night in December, and it didn’t disappoint! I’m the type to see every book’s action in my head while reading, but Lehane’s books are always make for for particularly vivid “brain movies.” By the time I’d finished the first chapter I knew I needed to add this book to the “Could it be a movie?” series.
The answer, obviously, is yes. This book would work both as a ’30s gangster flick (if we could hop back in time and bring the book with us as source material) or as a new-release period film. There are so many tense scenes that would be very powerful on the big screen. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thought so: Ben Affleck is reportedly writing, directing and starring in an adaptation, to be released in 2016.
I have mixed feelings about this upcoming adaptation. Affleck is certainly talented, and his previous directorial effort Argo picked up three Oscars. But I’m going to have a hard time buying him as Joe, who is about 20 years old at the beginning of the novel.
The rest of the announced casting choices — Sienna Miller as Emma Gould, Elle Fanning as Loretta Figgis and Zoe Saldana as Graciela — don’t align with the choices I’d make, either. (I, for some reason, pictured Karen Gillan as Emma Gould while reading, and think she’d be an interesting choice for the part.) I’m excited for the film, but won’t get my hopes up too high until more information is revealed!