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 mutu... more »al 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« less
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 12/22/2014...
Very different movie. Don't stop watching it... you will lose where you were. Twisty all around.
Gillian P. from CENTREVILLE, VA Reviewed on 12/11/2011...
I enjoyed this movie and did not see the ending coming. I thought that the actors were excellently cast. Telling the story from different perspectives was an interesting way to do the movie also. It's a story about a man's plan to rob his parents that goes terribly wrong from beginning to end. The opening scene is pretty graphic sexually, so be prepared for that, otherwise great movie. I'd recommend it.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Daniel B. from WARSAW, NY Reviewed on 3/17/2011...
GREAT CAST DYNAMITE FILM A KNOCKOUT. A KILLER CAST GIVING EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE ABOUT MEN BEHAVING BADLY AND A MOVIEGOER'S DELIGHT
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
An impressive melodrama. The stock, otherwise dull characters are given depth by the plot. The characters become more disdainful as the bad-to-worse movie continues.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
S A A. (Learned2Heal) Reviewed on 1/4/2009...
A true masterpiece, this movie. It will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. Amazing character development and acting. No surprise that, from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney. The real surprise was Ethan Hawke who, to me, always seemed an overrated mediocre actor. He was unbelievably good in this!
The plot of this film is fairly original and deserved the nominations for Best Original Screenplay, but the presentation is what makes it really work. There should have been an award for the editing too. The score ratcheted up the suspense nicely too.
The whole story comes together flawlessly, at its own prescribed pace. You may not feel much for the characters, but you don't have to. It merely shows you how seemingly ordinary people can get themselves into extraordinarily bad situations just by a slight miscalculation or two. They think they have this plan all sewn up, no problem. So simple. A cakewalk really. All too human... And so are their reactions when it all goes horribly wrong.
I gave it 4 stars. IMDB gives it 7.4/10.
5 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mary C. (librariansrule) Reviewed on 12/28/2008...
As has been said, this film was beautifully done. The characters were 3-dimensional, the plot was never heavy-handed, always believable. The pay off at the end was excellent, and--for me--the point of the whole film. Everything was right on the money. That said, I doubt if I will watch it more than once. I don't necessarily need heroes and villains in a movie, I like real people rather than cardboard figures.....but once was enough with this group.
4 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Danielle T. (sugarkane) from FITCHBURG, WI Reviewed on 10/23/2008...
This was an interesting story, no doubt. And, it was beautifully directed and acted. My only problem with this movie is that every character was deplorable, and I found myself asking "who am I rooting for?" The anwser was, sadly, no one. Worth a watch, and a solid three stars, but not my fave movie of all time.
7 of 8 member(s) found this review helpful.
Genius film by 83-yr-old director
Bradley F. Smith | Miami Beach, FL | 11/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The pacing, cinema style, storyline, acting, cutting, directing and overall look of this are stunning. At age 83, Lumet ("Dog Day Afternoon" etc) makes a movie like a 30-year-old would. Hoffman and Hawke are perfectly dysfunctional brothers here. Finney, the old pro as the father, is stunning. The plot is just convoluted enough and the tactic of replaying scenes through the now-familiar concept of time-shifting works very well. There's an operatic quality to the film, and of course, a Shakespearean tragedy going on as the family implodes after the brothers' decision to rob their parents' bland suburban jewelry store. I'd overlooked this upon release. Don't make the same mistake now. Watch!"