Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/United Kingdom, 2007. Capitol Films, Funky Buddha Productions, Unity Productions, Linsefilm. Screenplay by Kelly Masterson. Cinematography by Ron Fortunato. Produced by Michael Cerenzie, William S. Gilmore, Brian Linse, Paul Parmar. Music by Carter Burwell. Production Design by Christopher Nowak. Costume Design by Tina Nigro. Film Editing by Tom Swartwout. American Film Institute 2007. Boston Film Critics Awards 2007.Independent Spirit Awards 2007. Online Film Critics Awards 2007. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
Any movie that opens with a shot of Philip Seymour Hoffman naked is the work of a nasty sadist who is out to punish his audience. Give this one time, however, and you’ll realize that the opening is just setting the scene for a gritty and unpleasant heist film in which the crime is only the beginning of the ugly deeds that are committed. Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play brothers who decide to rob their parents’ little jewelry store in an effort to ease their own dire financial situations. They figure it’s an easy set-up, what with their extensive knowledge of the store and their confidence that their parents will be unharmed and compensated by insurance. When did anything involving a robbery ever go smoothly, however? A routine twist on a routine story has its moments of originality, but what really makes this one zing is the execution: Lumet goes to his raggedy seventies roots of photographically unflashy New York movies (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) and applies his spartan techniques here. There are no fancy plays on editing or lighting, just a group of people whose rotting cores speak for themselves. Albert Finney holds very strong ground as the father of the unfortunate brothers, while Marisa Tomei does a fantastic job with her few moments as Hoffman’s “I’m kinda cheap but I’ve got a bleeding heart and a mind of steel” wife.