Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA/United Kingdom, 2007.  Capitol Films, Funky Buddha Productions, Unity Productions, Linsefilm.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A gritty heist film in which the crime is only the beginning of the ugly deeds that are committed. Philip Seymour 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, but when did anything involving a robbery ever go smoothly?

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.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2007


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