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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
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Customer Reviews:

  • Not awesome...
    Wasn't the best movie, wasn't aweful. It was very long, didn't think it would end. Not sure if i would recommend it to people unless they are movie buffs. I guess I had bigger expectations....more info
  • where's the medical advisor?
    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie up to the ending in the hospital. I wonder why a director as experienced as Sydney Lumet could not find a "medical advisor" to "real-ize" the ending. (THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH!)
    1) Henry (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has been shot in the right upper chest and arm. He should be intubated and on a ventilator in a trauma ICU. He should have tubes coming out his chest. He should have no use of his arm since the nerves and vessels have been blasted. Patients in hospitals always complain about having "no privacy." Someone would be checking on poor Henry every 5 minutes at least. Instead he's in a private room. He has a cardiac monitor (always handy for showing the inevitable "flat line") and a nasal cannula,
    2) Henry is suspected of killing someone. In fact, he has killed someone, and the scene was witnessed by the deceased's sister. There would be security at the ICU door, although perhaps not in the actual unit. But the movie cop is sitting outside the door of this private ICU and conveniently leaves when Dad comes in.
    3) Unhooking the monitor not once but twice would set alarms off all over, even in Henry's "private" ICU. The potential liability of a malfunctioning cardiac monitor is so great that a new monitor would be in place immediately. No nurse (none that I know anyway) would just say, "Oh, it's been doing that all the time."
    4) Henry's father takes off the cardiac monitor stickies and puts them on his own chest. The stickies will usually not stick again after they're removed. The father has no idea where to put them on his chest. If Dad has a hairy chest, that would cinch it: no contact and no EKG tracing. Flat line, big alarm, thundering hordes in the room (the closest medical person in the scene seems to have been out smoking in the parking lot).
    I am a physician, but I do love movies. In cinematic hospital scenes the critically-ill character is all by him- herself in a big private room with minimal equipment. They look great: pink, well made-up, neat hair-do (just look at Mom on the vent earlier in the movie.) No nurses nearby, no respiratory therapists checking the vent, no doctors doing rounds. no medical students writing ten page histories. Given this lack of intensive or even minimal care, why not just die at home?...more info
  • Depressing, but Strangely Beautiful
    I won't go into too much detail, because some better reviewers than myself have already summed up this great movie perfectly. Superb acting all-around makes this movie great. Albert Finney is one of the greatest actors of all-time, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant as always. Ethan Hawke is at his all-time best, with a wonderfully understated performance. He plays the ultimate loser, and his performance is very realistic. Marisa Tomei is naked for half the movie, so she'll get no complaints in my book.

    I will say that to those who rated this movie low because it is "too depressing," you are only half-right. It is depressing, but it is true-to-life. It is about human frailty, a subject which only illuminates life for how wonderful and beautiful it really is. It is also about how one little action can snowball and bring about awful destruction, and should make one appreciate life all the more.

    Great movie....more info
  • Dark, Overlooked, and Full of Outstanding Performances
    Directed by the great Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men), this is a dark heist drama about terribly corrupt people. Fairly ordinary in its theme these days but Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is remarkably deep in engaging and underrated performances. The cast includes Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney, Brian O'Byrne, Amy Ryan, and of course the amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman in a role worthy of incredibly high praise, especially considering how unique the role is for Hoffman, who normally plays characters with a small fraction of the presence and confidence he has here. He is actually intimidating in some scenes which is a far cry from his equally engaging performances in Capote or Love Liza.

    Hoffman is Andy Hanson, an executive of seemingly solid repute, who has embezzled from his employer and is about to be audited. He needs money to make up for the losses due to his theft. Either that or he needs money to run far away from the law. He convinces his brother Hank (Hawke), who is also in need of money for his own reasons, to plan an armed robbery on a jewelry store. The moral dilemma here is that the jewelry store belongs to and is run by their parents. The plan fails in ways I won't reveal and eventually leads to various forms of further descent for the two characters. Albert Finney plays the father of Andy and Hank.

    Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is shot on high definition video and it is one of the first times I've seen the format used this effectively for a fairly low-budget feature length film. I guess even at 83 years old, Lumet is still evolving as a filmmaker, albeit the subject matter is still pretty consistent. He understands the technical end and he has always known how to tell a good story on film. The quick release on Blu-Ray was also welcome and of course consistent with the move to film on high definition.

    The story is told in various segments that bounce back and forth in time surrounding and during the events mentioned in the brief summary above. This was probably done to show the various character's perspectives on the events and was pretty effective for that. The movie was made on Lumet's own terms and that is something I can respect, but what made it surprising to me was the power of the characters and the performances of the actors in their roles. It really is a highlight on the resumes of all the actors involved and that is saying something for the likes of Finney, Hawke, and Hoffman. It is dark and has its own pace but I definitely recommend seeing Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. ...more info
  • A Descent into Evil
    "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is a dark tale of human greed and deceit. What starts out as a thoroughly corrupted crime against parents descends into something even worse. There is a horrible viscous circle at work which no one is able to right.

    Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) convinces his younger brother, Hank (Ethan Hawke), to rob their parents' jewellery store in the suburbs of New York. The parents are not meant to be working on the day of the heist and, although they may be disturbed by the crime, insurance will cover their losses. The brothers each have their own financial difficulties and the robbery will relieve them of their troubles.

    The crime, however, goes terribly wrong. Their mother is unexpectedly working on the day and dies of a gun shot wound. The trail left by the brothers slowly unravels and the especially conniving Andy is seen for being the epitome of evil. Needless to say, the brothers are found out. In a particularly bleak scene, Andy gets his comeuppance. At least some justice seems to be at work in a roundabout way.

    The performances of both Hoffman and Hawke are good. They are plausible in their roles. Their father, played by Albert Finney is also well managed. His grief at times is palpable.

    Overall, the film is good without being great. It is worth the effort but is unlikely to win a swag of awards.

    ...more info
  • BAD IDEA!.... GONE REALLY REALLY WRONG!
    'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead' will make you think twice about doing something you know is bad, but you do it anyway! With a premise that shows how wrong a seemingly easy solution can go horribly wrong this film pulls no punches! An engrossing story of two brothers in desperate need of cash, decide to pull off a robbery!....that's as far as I'll go with the plot. What happens next is absolutely tragic.

    The story is told flash back and flash forward style, which works well in story for the most part. Although, I did feel the film dragged needlessly in the middle sometimes because they didn't reveal enough new information during some flashback/forward segments. This didn't hurt the overall experience, but with a little more information, it would have really pulled me in. Regardless, it's a very solid film with solid performances. The ending was abrupt and left a couple of important loose ends. For those small grievances I deduct 1 star. ...more info
  • "May You Be In Heaven Half an Hour...Before the Devil Knows Your Dead"
    Every once in awhile, you come apon a film, that just totally blows you away. It's just great from the very first scene to the last one.The only thing you can say to yourself as the end credits roll is "wow, thats' what great filmmaking and acting is all about". Such is the case with Director, Sidney Lumet's powerhouse of a melodrama, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead".

    In this film we are introduced to two adult brothers, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank Hanson (Ethan Hawke). Both men are extremely different people, who lead very different life styles. But besides DNA, they do share one thing in common...money problems. At the start of the film, Andy pitches Hank an unusual ideal. He proposes, that they rob their own, elderly parents' small, suburban jewelry store. Andy assuredly presents this as a golden opportunity to solve their individual financial problems. An easy, victimless crime, that in the end will be covered by the insurance company. Hank is less sure, debating and arguing both the moral and practical implications of committing such an act. This sounds like a really bad, crack-pot ideal...right? You betcha. In the course of the actual robbery, everything that could go wrong, does go wrong with horrendous results.

    But this is all just a jumping off point for the story. In a non-linear, "Pulp Fiction"-like fashion, we are slowly presented with both the events, that lead up to the robbery and the aftermath, in which both brothers are desperately trying to cover up their crime. The dominoing consequences end up tragically, devastating everyone involved and leads to the revelation of long buried, emotional family problems and dysfunction.

    Director, Sidney Lumet, who's long and storied career includes many cinematic classics ("12 Angry men", "Dog Day Afternoon", "The Verdict", "Network") has made a truely great film. Maby, I'm committing a form of 'ageism', but I'm just amazed that a director, who's in his eighties is producing work, that has so much creativity, energy and vitality to it. My hat is off to him. Sidney Lumet is truely a consumate film artist.

    The same can be said for the film's cast, which includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. These four actors give just all around fantastic performances, that are at the top of their craft. In particular, I am quite impressed with Hoffman's turn as Andy. At first he presents us with a man, who seems composed, placid and assured in what he is doing. But as things start to fall apart, we watch this character just slowly implode into a mess of insecurities and dysfunction. Philip Seymour Hoffman may have won the Academy Award for "Capote", but this has to be one of his best performances ever.

    The DVD features an interesting, short documentary on Sidney Lumet and the making of this film. Also included is a commentary track featuring Lumet, Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman. If your a fan of crime thrillers, good drama or just great filmmaking in general, then check out "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead". Excellent movie! Highly recommended! ...more info
  • Great
    This is a really good movie, you have to pay attention and stay in the room the whole movie...Or pause it if you have you leave the room......more info
  • Before the Devil Knows Your're Dead
    The work of Sidney Lumet is just fantastic. His direction is so insightful. The cast was wonderful too especially Philip Seymour Hoffman. Is there any part he can't breathe life into. It is a great film....more info
  • Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice To Deceive
    "Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is such a superb crime melodrama that I almost want to leave it at that. To just stop writing right now and advise you to go out and see it as soon as you can. I so much want to avoid revealing plot points that I don't even want to risk my usual strategy of oblique hints. You deserve to walk into this one cold." Roger Ebert

    Sidney Lumet at the age of 83 has again directed a film for the ages. A film of a family falling down, round and apart. Philip Seymour Hoffman is amazing as the older brother in the family. He works for a successful real estate office in NYC. His younger bro, Ethan Hawke shows us how very great an actor he can be, and works for the same agency. The Greek Tragedy begins when a plan to rob a suburban jewelry store goes all wrong. The mom and pop of this store are in reality Andy and Hank's parents. Would you, could you rob your own family? You could if you needed money badly enough it seems. Andy and Hank are in great need of money. Hoffman as Andy, has a habit that leads him to illegal drugs. Hank Hanson, Ethan Hawke, has a snarly ex-wife who wants her child support and cares naught how Hank gets the money. As Sir Francis Scott has said 'Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive'.

    Albert Finney plays Andy and Hank's dad. His fine acting lends this film the reality of the quintessential dysfunctional family. His actions, so akin to a Greek Tragedy seal the fate of this film. The two sons who have always pandered for best loved son, can now give it up. The family relationships are not explained and it is up to us to get to know them. Mom, Rosemary Harris, has a small part but is the agent of change in this film. Marisa Tomei the wife of Andy and lover of Hank, ah, we are beginning to see the light here, plays the tragically ignored wife.

    "My grandfather, whose background was not so different from Mr. Lumet's, was dismissive of movies that seemed overly dark or despairing. "There wasn't a single decent human being in the whole movie," he used to complain. He might not have found any in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," but he would also have recognized the humanism that saves this harsh tale from nihilism. The screen may be full of losers, liars, killers and thieves, but behind the camera is a mensch." A O Scott

    Messy, emotional, melodramatic, film noir is my beat. This film has it all.

    Highly Recommended prisrob 05-17-08

    The Savages

    Before Sunrise

    Pope John Paul II
    ...more info
  • "I got to get into character."
    "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is a tough crime drama that exposes the seamy underbelly of life. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke star as an unlikely set of brothers, both of whom are having money problems. Hoffman devises a plan to help them both get some cash - not surprisingly, the plan turns sour. The rest of the movie concerns the fallout of their actions. The plot jumps back and forth in time and is told from multiple perspectives; there are also some nifty plot twists, the biggest of which is revealed very early in the movie.

    During the 1970s and early 1980s, Sidney Lumet directed a number of great movies focusing on big city corruption (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Prince of the City). He got off track afterwards, only rarely scoring with a moderate critical hit (Running on Empty, Night Falls on Manhattan). By returning to his theme of the evil in seemingly good New Yorkers, Lumet rises to his earlier directing glory - "Before the Devil" is easily his best work since 1982's "The Verdict." He's aided by a stellar cast, which includes Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei, who is so often under-used in films.

    Many of the biggest critical hits of 2007 explored dark themes - "No Country for Old Men," "American Gangster," "Eastern Promises," and "There Will Be Blood." This film can hold its own against these heavyweights; unfortunately, "Before the Devil" was criminally neglected during awards season, scoring only a few wins from minor film critic societies. Hopefully on DVD it can reach a far wider audience.
    ...more info
  • Before The Devil Know's You're Dead
    Wow. How did I miss this movie for so long? I actually had heard nothing of it until seeing a trailer for it on another film I was getting ready to watch. It was then that I saw that it was available to watch instantly on Netflix, and by the end of the day yesterday I had bought a copy of it to keep.

    This film sports an ensemble cast that's as good as you'll see in any movie - Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, and Amy Ryan (who is the new HR person on NBC's The Office" and considered a break-out character actress - she also had a major role in Gone Baby Gone).

    After seeing Hoffman master so many character roles by now, his presence in BTDKYD was why I decided to watch it in the first place - what remains a mystery to me is how little I had known about this movie after seeing his performance - which I would have to rank as one of his very best. He is absolutely brilliant as the older brother in a family that is irretrievably dysfunctional, from the father (Albert Finney) to the younger brother (Ethan Hawke) and extending out to the elder brother's wife (Marisa Tomei).

    The movie starts at the culmination point - a fool-proof plan that proves to be completely foolish - the robbery of a jewelry store that ends up with both the would be robber and the shop keeper both shot. The story is then told in reverse from three perspectives - older brother Andy (Hoffman), who hatches the plan in order to finance the fraud he's about to get caught for at his job, younger brother Hank (Hawke), who is perpetually late with his child support payments and clearly not succeeding in life, and father Charles (Finney), who raised Andy so harshly that he has been emotionally alienated from his father and grown to loathe him completely.

    The tension and pace of the movie as all of this unfolds will keep you completely engrossed in the plot's telling - and as each character's flaws are uncovered they become more riveting to watch until the very dark conclusion of this mesmerizing tale. If you are a fan of Hoffman in particular, this is a must-see portrayal on film. And if not, the cast as ensemble will certainly make it worth your while. I found the movie to be so good that it was worth watching twice yesterday - and I can't remember the last time I've done that.

    ...more info
  • Sidney Lumet in Top Form
    Director Sidney Lumet's BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD was one of the very best pictures of 2007, and it's a shame that it was ignored during the Academy Awards. Certainly the script, direction and performances were much better than in many of the films that were honored.

    A melodrama in the best sense of the word, the New York-based film, written by Kelly Masterson, tells of two brothers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) who are desperate for money. They decide to solve their problem by holding up a suburban mom-and-pop jewelry store, an easy target. The problem is that the store owners are the boys' parents (Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris) and, during the robbery, actually carried out by Hawke's buddy, something goes terribly wrong.

    Now, the brothers have to not only cover their tracks because Finney is determined to find the guilty party, but they must also deal with a blackmailer.

    The climax is both shocking and violent, as everything for the brothers seems to spin out of control.

    Marisa Tomei co-stars as Hoffman's wife, who just happens to be having an affair with Hawke, and Amy Ryan plays Ethan's former spouse.

    ? Michael B. Druxman...more info
  • One of the decade's best thrillers
    Sidney Lumet's Serpico/Dog Day Afternoon heyday may be several decades behind him, but with Before the Devil Knows You're Dead he's crafted a smartly written, complicated, and ultimately gut-wrenching suspense film that doesn't pander to its audience with cheap plot twists or manufactured happy endings but instead resides squarely in the real world throughout. If you're watching this movie in a dark frame of mind, you're in for a treat--its cynical, uncompromising view of the world and of human nature make it about as heartwarming as a Joy Division album. Relentlessly exploring the way unintended consequences can pile up on even the most seemingly well-thought-out schemes, the movie makes a compelling case that the perfect crime is nothing more than a fantasy. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is a welcome rarity in that it's an almost entirely character-driven thriller, a trick it manages to pull off because while it follows many of the conventions of the thriller genre, the movie remains firmly rooted in the dysfunctional relationships and day-to-day financial pressures that are a reality for all too many people.

    After a brief intro, the movie jumps right into the meat of the plot, as an attempted robbery at a mom-and-pop jewelry store in suburban New York ends up with mom and the would-be robber shooting each other to death. It quickly emerges that the robbery was engineered by mom and pop's sons, yuppie d-bag Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and slow-witted, Fredo-esque Hank (Ethan Hawke), who mistakenly believe the family store will make an easy target and a quick fix for their respective troubles. Each has a compelling reason for wanting to get rich quick--Hank is drowning in child-support payments to his shrewish ex-wife (Amy Ryan, excellent as always in a minor role), while Andy dreams of escaping to Brazil with his unsatisfied wife Gina (Marisa Tomei, still hot even in her 40's), who just happens to be carrying on a side affair with Hank. Focusing mainly on the two brothers, the movie tells the main characters' stories in parallel, jumping around in time to cover the days both leading up to and following the robbery, and while this isn't exactly an innovative device at this point Lumet brilliantly exploits it to build dramatic irony and parcel out the revelations in the most organic fashion possible.

    Even if it's not always the most ambitious movie ever made, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead manages to more than get by on the intelligence and depth of its writing, directing, and acting, especially from Hawke and Hoffman as the almost comically mismatched brothers. At times it's hard to decide which brother I wanted to punch in the face more--the weak, whiny Hank or the smug, repressed Andy--which is a testament to how believable both actors are in their roles. While Hawke certainly holds his own, Hoffman as usual is the star of the show as Andy, a drug-abusing snake and unavailable husband who exploits people and violates the law with no apparent reservations. In spite of his occasional moments of introspection, at bottom Andy is just a calculating, self-interested sociopath, as the movie's devastating final act makes perfectly clear, and Hoffman is perfect at making you almost feel for Andy in spite of his repugnant actions (also, his non-reaction to one of the big revelations late in the movie is beyond priceless). In the other central role, Albert Finney turns in a legitimately moving performance as Hank and Andy's father Charles, who suddenly finds himself aimless and obsessed with revenge in the wake of his wife's death. Finney's role doesn't appear all that substantial at first, but it eventually turns into an examination of the plight of the marginalized elderly on par with Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis's performances in the great Bubba Ho-Tep.

    Overall, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is an extremely impressive effort in a thriller genre whose releases seem to be getting increasingly interchangeable these past few years. There's a palpable sense of foreboding that hangs over everything, which is brilliantly enhanced by Lumet's stark, unstylized direction. The violence is pretty minimal, but what there is is suitably blunt and unflinching, and attempts to soften the characters or the world they inhabit are thankfully rare. Best of all, it carries with it a strong moral about the folly of trying to find a quick fix for your troubles, especially when it involves trying to steal from your own family. ...more info
  • I Wish I Was Dead
    I lost interest so early in the film. There was lots of jumping around, and back and forth in time which wasn't really hard to follow -- but it seemed excessive. The premise of the film seemed interesting, but the followthrough was so far off the mark -- like perhaps a high school kid wrote the script. Too many odd characters when they were not necessary. The redeeming 2 stars I gave this were for the ending. While there is one aspect of the film that just leaves you hanging... "like, hey -- so what about him? what happens to him?" There is one very suprising incident to close out the story that I did not see coming. I will try to steer clear of this write and directors films for some time......more info
  • ....very good
    I will not bore you with another synopsis of this film. Unless you beg me to and then I will just do a c/p of someone else's.
    The open scene is quite the 'opening scene'....gets your attention.

    This film is very well done. It is a film that is 'dark'. Reminds me of a Cohen Bros Film. Other directors might might have kept it darker with the use of light.
    The cast does an excellent job.
    Some parents do not have good kids. Some kids don't have good parents. You decide. Some things just are. You decide.
    ...more info
  • DVD
    DVD took maximum time to be delivered, it arrived two weeks later than everything else ordered at the same time. Product was in condition advertised....more info
  • Not every story has a happy ending
    I thought this was the best movie I had seen in years. The acting was very good and yes its a depressing story, but that should not mean its a bad movie (not sure why those people who rated this movie as poor did so just because it was disturbing and depressing). If you need a happy ending and hate flashbacks and forward in movies so much that you can't enjoy such films, well then, this movie isn't for you. ...more info
  • Try Something New, Hollywood!
    All this fancy flip-flopping fore and aft in time, showing every scene twice, might save money on script but it couldn't save a scrawny turkey like "Before the Box Office Knows You're Dead" on the day after Thanksgiving. It's been done, dudes! Get a new gimmick!

    I hope they paid Philip Seymour Hoffman a bundle for this humiliation. He's a great actor but his freckled b_tt does nothing for me....more info
  • A Five Star Film And Then Some!
    I just saw this movie on cable tv and it's one of the most powerful movies I've ever seen. People rating this movie poorly because it's depressing, because the characters are slimy and because they can't keep up with the time jumps??? Excuse me, where was it written that movies are supposed to be happy go lucky affairs with lovable characters and easy to follow narration? The negative reviewers probably need to stick with Disney movies which I think will have more of what they're looking for in a movie.

    If however you want to see a film with phenomenal acting, and with a powerful twist on the common theme of greed/money/drugs corrupting and ruining lives you've found your film. I was left emotionally exhausted after watching this movie, as I have encountered similar low and dark periods in my life. The scene where the character played by Philip Hoffman starts randomly knocking stuff over in his apartment on purpose really hit home. For anyone who's hit a similar low in their life, you'll know what I'm talking about.

    I can't recommend this movie enough. I don't write many reviews on amazon and usually only take the time to do so for something I either really hated or really loved. Warning, this is not a feel good movie at all! It is meant to be depressing and the characters are meant to be slimy. That's life folks. It would be great if life was like a Walt Disney movie, but it's a big, scary, mean, depressing world out there and this movie does an amazing job of presenting it in all it's glory....more info
  • Shockingly bad
    I am surprised how highly praised this film is ... I thought it was bad. Shockingly bad because there are so many great actors in this film: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, and even a little Rosemary Harris.

    It was weird, yet intriguing in its stylized design. The family dynamic was also interesting to watch as it unfolded. But you could never truly connect to these characters or their problems, because you never truly understood them. The scenes are just short snippets. Even so, this is not a flaw, but rather just a detached film.

    The plot is weak; leading me to believe the dynamic style was an attempt to cover up a rather mundane, short, predictable film. Two brothers plot to rob their parent's suburban shopping mall jewelry store, when things suddenly fall apart. The rest of the film is a flashback/forward of each character's take on the robbery, its precedents, and its aftermath. The acting is not necessarily bad, but it definitely is not good. Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman do a convincing job, but they cannot save this hopeless film.

    Marisa Tomei is a huge disappointment. Apparently this was a low budget film because there was not enough money to buy her a decent wardrobe (she likes to spend several prolonged, and unnecessary scenes naked or nearly so). What happened to her career? This is a sad film for her most of all. Unless you really like one of these actors, or love Sidney Lumet, I would not waste your time on this film. Truly disappointed. ...more info
  • Well that was a cheery one
    What a dark and depressing film Sidney Lumet has created. Technically everything works from the script, the acting, the directing, and so forth but I still wasn't impressed. What annoyed me the most was the 'Reservoir Dogs' style of jumping back and forth from the robbery, the preparations before the robbery, the aftermath of the robbery. The film is already long at two hours and this abrupt back and forth made it feel longer. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play the Hanson brothers: Andy and Hank. Andy (Hoffman) is married to an insecure trophy wife (the nude Marisa Tomei) and their sex life is only happening when they are vacationing in Rio. He wants enough money to move there permanently so that him and his wife can enjoy each other to the fullest. He hates his job in the corporate world and is in danger of being found out by IRS auditors since he has been stealing money to support his drug habit. Hank (Hawke) is a loving father who can't find the money to pay his alimony and child support. His ex wife has no sympathy for him and belittles him in front of their daughter. Both men are desperate for a quick fix and Andy comes up with just the solution. They will knock over a "mom and pop" jewelry store and split the six grand profit. He assures Hank that it is a "victimless" crime since the shop owners will collect the insurance. The only hitch is that the mom and pop he's referring to are their own parents. Beginning with a dark premise like two brothers robbing their parents' store things can only get darker from here and they do. Murder, double cross, blackmail, drugs, infidelity, revenge, I don't think Lumet leaves anything out. Hoffman is good as the older brother who resents having to carry his younger brother all these years and who is pissed off at the old man for not loving him as much as his other siblings. Hawke is extremely touching as a devoted father who is desperate to buy his daughter the things that will make her happy. Tomei's character isn't really fleshed out (poor pun I know) and is reduced to a vulnerable woman caught between two brothers. Finney is heartbreaking as the father who has to admit his shortcomings to his grown sons and struggle to find some answers in light of the senseless tragedy that befalls him and his wife. The only light moments come from the awesome Michael Shannon as a blackmailer who has the film's greatest line "Now listen Chico. Do you mind if I call you Chico?". I don't know if I'd call it another Lumet masterpiece but even in his eighties he shows that he's still got what it takes....more info
  • Lumet: Still The Master Filmmaker
    When I heard aging director Sidney Lumet was attached to BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD, I was dubious about its success. Not because Lumet has any stains on his record! Quite the contrary. With films like 12 Angry Men, Serpico, and Fail Safe to his astounding credit, he is well-known as a vintage director of classic melodramas. But his age (83 at the time this film was made) could've been a factor; old-style filmmaker does old-style job again. But any fears were quickly whisked away once I started watching his latest film.

    Not surprisingly, when Hollywood heard the name "Lumet" and that it was involved with a new movie, several bigshots jumped at the chance to be in it. And this was a very good thing. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) heads this all-star melodrama (yes, it's still a melodrama and that's a VERY good thing) alongside Ethan Hawke (Lord of War) and the incredibly sexy Marisa Tomei (Wild Hogs). Forming a kind of triumvirate of misfits, Lumet takes the audience on a wild ride both in terms of how the timing of the film is laid out (jumping from date to date and perspective to perspective) and what each of them is up to. Hoffman turns in another excellent performance as Andy, a man with financial and drug issues and married to the beautiful Gina (Tomei). Gina is lost amidst her husband's distant actions and shut-in existence and finds solace with his brother Hank (Hawke).

    Hank is also having financial woes and isn't the brightest bulb in the package. And when his brother Andy (Hoffman) comes to him with a plan to hold up a jewelry store in order to solve their problems, Andy is hesitantly for it ...until he learns Andy's plan is to rob their own parents' store. Store owner and parents Charles (Albert Finney, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride) and Nanette (Rosemary Harris, Spider-Man 3) are completely oblivious to their son's plan and when Hank hires a man to help him rob the store, things go horribly wrong.

    It is to Lumet's credit that he spearheads the issues each character deals with and does so without extending it/them into boredom; an area that has plagued many past melodramas. Sexy, dangerous, and frighteningly realistic, Lumet delivers a film that picks up tension as the characters spiral out of control. Even Charles (Finney) isn't immune to the pressures of these horrific events, finding himself making a decision no father should ever be in the position of making.

    Again, it is to Lumet's credit that he's not afraid to move with the times and show us he knows what works for audiences. The opening sex sequence will certainly grab many viewers. Lumet also isn't afraid to use new technology in his filming; he's all digital. This speaks to his understanding of how well he sees filmmaking as an art, which includes how light falls onto film versus into the digital 1s and 0s. ...more info
  • Sorry I wasted my time
    This movie jumped around too much without a good transition. Dont get me wrong, I love movies that do flash backs, but this movie did not transition well. It was very depressing and the way it ended was BULL SH**!!! It was a waste of the $1 I spend to see it and a waste of my two hours I could have spent watching something better....more info
  • The GREAT Sidney Lumet Strikes Again!
    The amazing career of Sidney Lumet is Hollywood legend, and at age 82, he's as fresh as ever. He's transcended the current trends, whether the "in your face" drama of the 50's (12 Angry Men), faithful adaptations of great plays (Long Day's Journey into Night), powerful irony of the 70's (Network), and now the popular and effective "flash-back" ideas of the 2000's. Each one is character driven to the max, and his choice of actors is always right-on. p>"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is a riveting account, thanks to writer Kelly Masterson, and a brilliant cast led by P.S. Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney, and ALL involved. Mr. Lumet controls the mayhem with a sure hand and total understanding of his material. That this film was totally ignored at the Oscars escapes me, though many critics included this in their Top 10 list, not to mention a few that gave it Best Ensemble Cast recognition. The editing is exceptional. p>The DVD is fine, with some good extras and a great commentary from Messrs. Lumet, Hoffman & Hawke. Definitely worth a look. ...more info
  • What a gripping thriller!
    Oh my! What a movie. I was glued to it from start to finish and just couldn't believe the twists and turns, and how things went from bad to worse for the brothers.

    I bought this movie on spec while passing through an airport duty free and so didn't give it my usual scrutiny like I would if I bought it on Amazon. In fact, I had no idea what it was about when I popped it into my DVD player. Maybe this is the best way to choose a movie? In any case, the acting was superb and I felt I was living the lives of all the people involved. You could almost (not quite, but almost) imagine yourself getting caught up in such a scenario, under the same set of circumstances.

    Anyway, if you are thinking about buying this movie, I would say definitely go for it. I intend to watch it again, and again....more info
  • O Brother
    Everything about this film was well done except the plot. The situation was relatable, the acting superb, the direction clear albeit nonlinear. The story was thought-provoking if not eerily recursive. However, once the secret is out the momentum dropped drastically. I found that I didn't care what the true outcome would be, which is a weakness for an otherwise strong setup....more info