|Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
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Andy is an overextended payroll executive who lures his younger brother hank into a larcenous scheme: the pair will rob a suburban mom-&-pop jewelry store. The problem is the store owners are andy & hanks actual mom & pop and when the seemingly perfect crime goew horribly wrong. Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 08/12/2008 Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman Marisa Tomei Run time: 117 minutes Rating: R
Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is an exceptionally dark story about a crime gone wrong and the complicated reasons behind it. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are outstanding as brothers whose mutual love-hate relationship subtly colors their agreement to rob their own parents' jewelry store, and more explicitly affects the anxious aftermath of their villainy when their mother (Rosemary Harris) ends up shot. Hoffman's steely, emotionally locked-up Andy, despite pulling down six figures as a corporate executive, is supporting an expensive drug habit while trying to leave the country with his depressed wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei). Hank (Hawke), a whipped dog of low intelligence, owes back alimony and child support to his ex-spouse. Both men need money and agree to rip off their parents' business, a decision that goes awry and puts both men in various kinds of jeopardy while their mother remains comatose and their father (Albert Finney) lurches along trying to make sense of anything. Writer Kelly Masterson's screenplay employs a perhaps now-overly-familiar time-shifting tactic, jumping around the chronology of the story's events and replaying scenes from different vantage points. The effect is a little tedious but successfully deconstructs the film's drama in a way that shows how such terrible events are directly linked to family dysfunction, old wounds between parent and child, between siblings, that fester into full-blown tragedy. Eighty-three-year-old director Lumet (Serpico) employs bleached colors and scenes of blunt sexuality and violence, adding to the moral rudderlessness and banality of this airless world. If Devil feels a little reductive and insistently grim, it is also a generally persuasive work by an old master. --Tom Keogh
- 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
I knew this film would be dark, but I wasn't prepared for how dark it turned out to be. The tension never lets up for almost two hours. ...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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Does Good Acting Redeem This Film?
This is a squalid,ugly drama. 2 brothers conspire to rob their parents, one presumably because he can't afford child support, the other because he can't afford his drug habits. Everything goes predictably wrong. Both of them sleeping with Marisa Tomei, a brilliant actress who's ability is pretty much wasted in this part.
The plot is the familiar jewelry store robbery gone wrong, told in flashbacks, done much better IMO in films like Reservoir Dogs, where at least the shifting loyalties of the repellent characters keep you interested.
There's nothing redeeming here. 2 hours of downward spiral, with an overly melodramatic score and Hoffman looking sad and Hawke looking scared and stupid. That's all folks. Lifetime channel material with some sex and violence, and the cast plays their thin roles dutifully.
Enjoy. ...more info
- Excellent Downbeat Lumet Thriller
Before The Devil Knows Your Dead is a wonderfully acted, skillfully directed thriller that is not the kind of film to see where you're looking for a happy, upbeat story. This is the kind of film that once it gets started, you know that the main characters will not only never be the same, but will leave shattered lives if they live at all.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Andy, a corporate executive who is married to Gina, a beautiful wife who is unhappy with their life, and who wants to move to Rio de Janeiro, where they just recently vacationed and reconnected with each other. Masking his emotions as well as a severe habit, Andy reaches a point of desperation where he seeks to be able take Gina away to Rio for good. This desperation point coincides with similar feelings within his brother Hank, played by Ethan Hawke. Hank is a weak and cowardly younger brother to Andy. Hank works at the same company as Andy, and is unable to pay child support to his ex-wife for his daughter. At the same time, Hank is having an affair with Gina.
Andy comes up with what he things is a perfect solution to both his and Hank's financial problems. They will setup a robbery of their parents jewelry shop. The merchandise is insured, will be replaced, and the robbery will occur when neither parent is at the store. No one will gethurt because no real weapons will be used. And both Andy and Hank financial problems will be solved.
Not surprisingly, their seemingly "harmless" plan goes horribly, horribly wrong. The repercussions reverberate throughout the lives of everyone involved. No one is unscathed, and that one bad decision leads to many more bad decisions.
Sidney Lumet's films have often dealt with complex characters who make poor choices that affect others. This comes in handy when dealing with two brothers who are so desperate to change their circumstances that they don't think about how their choices will affect others, or how badly they will miscalculate. The acting is top-notch, including Albert Finney and Rosemary Harris, who play the brothers' parents.
This film is a great character study of human nature, and a very good film, even if it is not always easy to watch....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
Pope John Paul II
- Disappointing, insistent, and hard to sit through
This was painful, and surprisingly so because it seems to have all the elements of being wonderful: an interesting plot, complex characters, clever director, and very talented actors. As soon as it was over, however, I was angry at having been duped into watching it. It (the film) is so aware of those surefire elements I named a moment ago, that it seemed fine with the fact that the scenes weren't going right, it wasn't believable, and it was hard for the audience to like or care about any of the characters. All in all, a waste of time and painfully so. I gave it two stars only because it was better than I would have done, were I a director....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
- 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
- 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
- The Family That Slays Together...
This movie is about two loser brothers who plan to rob their parents' jewelry store. (How low can you go?) The mastermind (feeble mind) is the older brother, Andy, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Andy seems to have no redeeming qualities. Ethan Hawke is the younger brother, Hank, who has the backbone of a jellyfish. Albert Finney skillfully plays the bad boys' father.
It's certainly a downer. There's no sunshine in these lives. Everybody is greedy and manipulative. Andy's wife and Hank's ex-wife are cold and demanding.
After an attention-grabbing beginning, I soon found myself wondering how this mess would be resolved. So I kept watching, even though the film followed a confusing skip-around format. I found the conclusion disappointing, but somehow fitting for this ultra-dark work.
The acting was beyond reproach. But a little levity, or even a righteous detective, would have gone a long way....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.
- Dark with good acting
Good acting, disturbing storyline, and well directed. However, the movie lacks resolution which leaves an uneasy feeling. Not sure if I would recommend it, but it is interesting to watch the story develop. The only great thing about this movie was Marissa Tomei's BODY... WHOA, she has one of the best looking figures in Hollywood (WOW!). ...more info
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
- 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
- ....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.
- 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
- You have about 30 Minutes in Heaven Before the Devil knows you're Dead!
Sidney Lumet, the acclaimed director responsible for "Serpico" and "12 Angry Men" returns with another thrilling slice of human drama in "BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD". The man definitely knows how to make a melodrama seem thrilling and immersive. I'm not going to argue with him, Lumet insists that this film is a melodrama rather than a crime thriller. Melodramas is one of the most underestimated genres in film. Whatever genre it may be under, the script by Kelly Masterson comes to life with Lumet's touch. It is a surprisingly powerful thriller (ahem), I mean melodrama.
Two brothers; Hank (Ethan Hawke) and Andy Hanson(Philip Seymour Hoffman) have their own share of problems. Hank is way behind in child support payments and Andy is having some marital issues with Gina (Marisa Tomei), and his miss-dealings at work is in danger of becoming uncovered. They hatch up a supposed "perfect" crime to rob their parent's (played by Albert Finney and Rosemary Harris) small jewelry store to escape their issues. Unexpectedly, the robbery goes awry, and the Hanson brothers find themselves in a deeper predicament than ever before.
According to legendary director Sidney Lumet, a melodrama is a film whereas the characters drive the plot rather than the screenplay. The film was originally meant to be a crime caper-thriller but with Lumet's very steady hand, it becomes more a slice of life or rather a very black view of a dysfunctional family. The film begins with a scene in Rio with Andy and Gina making love; yes, there is graphic sex and nudity but the way Lumet handles the scene is quite ingenious. The scene serves up a lot of character development for our main protagonist Andy. Gina (Marisa Tomei) is also having an affair with her husband's brother Hank, that also serves up a lot of "amped" up intensity in their relationship. The screenplay by Masterson originally wrote the two as only friends and thank goodness for Lumet's insistence that they be written in as brothers. However dark and bleak the film's premise is, it succeeds in serving up the needed credibility and believability in its characters and the situation they are in.
The film's first half is in a fragmented style and it works. The film deals with Hank, then Andy and then Hank again. The sequences occur 3-4 days before the robbery and gives definite focus as to why and the how the two brothers could come up with a devilish scheme such as this. At first, I had some difficulty believing that two off springs could carry out a crime such as this, but as the film progresses, the character-driven plot is given room to convince. Andy is an individual who just cannot appreciate what he has and Hank is well, as their dad says, "like a baby". The film has some very noteworthy scenes before and after robbery that gives the plot a lot of emotion.
Of course, for an emotionally-charged melodrama, the cast has to perform almost remarkably, and they do. Academy award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman actually carries most of the film, but it would be unfair to say that the film is a success because of his superb performance. Ethan Hawke also does a convincing job as the nervous, "loser" brother who is also a father in a bind. Academy award winner Marisa Tomei's character, Gina may be a little underdeveloped, but the actress does maximize whatever she had to work with. Tomei plays her character with a sort of a mild femme fatale in the beginning, Marisa is so sexy and her facial expressions can work the camera when it comes to emotion. Albert Finney plays the father determined to find those behind the robbery, and his mannerisms and actions display pure emotional pain.
Sidney Lumet definitely knows how to bring the best out of his cast and this film is another testament to his directorial skills. The script may not offer that many surprises, (you can tell from a mile away that the film will be bleak and black) and the climax may feel a bit perfunctory and opens up a few unanswered questions but the structure and the direction is solid enough to immerse the audience. For me, at least, the ending gives an exclamation point and serves up some details left for our imagination and understanding.
"Before the Devil knows your dead" makes for a very gripping and bleak melodrama and it comes with a highly recommended rating from me. The characters do come alive and the film's plot is interesting enough to keep you glued to your seat. You are about to be taken for a ride...
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! [4- Stars]
- great acting, great script, great pace
This was noir-ish and enjoyable. The acting was superb and the story interesting. You will not regret watching this movie....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.
- 3.5 stars out of 4
The Bottom Line:
A thriller that sucks the audience in and doesn't let them go for the entirety of its running length, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead features crafty direction, perfect performances and a level of characterization rarely seen in thrillers: it's a film to bump to the top of one's queue....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
- Mining The Depths Of Stupidity
Listen, Man. This sure had all the indicators of a promising few hours, with the cast and director having proved themselves through the years. It's impossible to feel any sympathy for any of the characters in this film, 'cuz they're all either too selfish or stupid to exist. Good acting? Sure, but to what end? The movie jumps back & forth in a very distracting manner, and Hawke's character is darn dumb I wanted to rip him outta the TV and strangle him. Believability is shot early on in this lame attempt at suspense. Several loose ends, but really it don't matter, because at least the agony is over. Marisa's lovely presence is the only reason I sat through it to the end. Lame, lame, lame otherwise. Wanna sey Hoffman in something worthwhile, get Love Liza or Owning Mahoney. Avoid this stinkbomb....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
- 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
- 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
- A SIMPLE PLAN...
An entire family is annihilated after a desperate businessman named Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) convinces his weak-willed brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) to commit a robbery. Nothing goes according to plan, and everything that can go wrong, does. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD is a story of total hopelessness. I kept wanting the situation to improve, knowing full well that things could / would only get worse. Marisa Tomei (Danika) plays Andy's frustrated, cheating wife. Albert Finney is Andy and Hank's tormented dad. BTDKYD has a delightfully bleak atmosphere throughout. I like the way it develops from a semi-humorous caper into an outrageous tragedy. Director, Sidney Lumet has certainly kept his sharp edge! Well worth owning... ...more info
- Another Sidney Lumet triumph
Irony and Fate are the true, de facto stars of "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," an ingeniously constructed and beautifully crafted tale of an attempted robbery - one that winds up going awry in ways that the participants could never possibly imagine or foresee.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play two brothers who have recently fallen on hard times. Andy (Hoffmann) is a real estate accountant who needs money to feed his secret heroin addiction, while Hank (Hawke) is a doting dad who is already three months behind on his alimony and child-support payments. Hank, the "weakling," is initially reluctant to turn to a life of crime to solve his problems, but desperation and the persuasive powers of his domineering older sibling finally convince him to do it.
"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is the latest work by veteran director Sidney Lumet, who in his prime gave us "Twelve Angry Men," "The Pawnbroker," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Network," and "The Verdict," and who here demonstrates that, even in this his sixth decade of moviemaking, he is still at the top of his game. In his most famous - invariably urban-based - dramas, Lumet has always been far more concerned with character study than with plot mechanics per se - even when, as is certainly the case here, the film boasts one of the most purely fascinating storylines of any movie in recent memory. For, indeed, with every twist and turn of the narrative, Lumet and screenwriter Kelly Masterson reveal new and fascinating aspects of the characters, as we watch the brothers becoming ever more entangled in a web of their own making, till, finally, no good options are left. To draw us deeper into the plight of the characters and the world they have created for themselves, the filmmakers have come up with a demanding and complex - but always comprehensible - multi-level time structure through which to tell their story, creating a fascinating puzzle for the audience to solve.
Thanks to brilliant performances by Hoffmann, Hawke and Albert Finney as the boys' father, the movie evolves into a gripping family drama in which feelings and resentments, simmering just beneath the surface for decades, are suddenly brought to the fore by the heavy-handed machinations of Fate.
"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" has all the earmarks of a classic tragedy, with one glaring exception: Andy and Hank demonstrate little of the potential nobility whose fall we would normally be called upon to mourn. This makes the movie a true product and reflection of the times in which we live.
First-rate on every level, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" stands as one of the top movie releases of 2007....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