When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents' jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother's wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
Needing extra cash, two brothers conspire to pull off the perfect, victimless crime. No guns, no violence, no problem. But when an accomplice ignores the rules and crosses the line, his actions trigger a series of events in which no one is left unscathed. Written by
In the DVD's Director's commentary, Sidney Lumet stated that in the original script, the character of Bobby Lasorda was supposed to be only 19 years old. The character was made older to make the character seem more realistic and sad. See more »
When Andy is shown being injected with heroin, the film shows Justin first withdrawing blood into the small syringe, to "confirm that he is in a vein", with the rubber tube tourniquet applied, above the level of the needle. However, when he subsequently injects the drug, he does not first remove the tourniquet, which would be normal practice when administering intravenous medication. See more »
A multi-perspective heist movie that turns into so much more
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD starts off promisingly, setting up a simple heist that goes awry, told from varying perspectives (in RASHOMON style). At around the hour mark, Sidney Lumet transforms this film into something that is so much more than the sum of its parts; it eventually morphs into a multi-faceted family drama, exploring the full realm of human emotions/relations, as the story comes to its chilling climax.
As is the case with Lumet, he manages to coax exceptional performances out of his star-studded cast, without any notion of over-acting or hyperbole. Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his best roles, is a complex, mysterious, and interesting character, and oftentimes dwarfs Ethan Hawke, who plays his brother, Hank. That's not to say that Hawke is not bad; in fact he is quite above adequate, in a troubled role that suits his style. Marisa Tomei is excellent for her relatively short appearance (the fact that she bares her flesh adds to this). Albert Finney's character (Andy and Hank's father) is the most intriguing, and in my opinion, he deserved a bit more screen-time. Amy Ryan also performs her job adequately.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD is not an exceptional movie, but it proves that Lumet is still near the top of his game at the (apparent) twilight of an illustrious career. Many of his characteristics and trademarks appear here, not least of which involves the use of his characters. Infused with a killer script (no pun intended), smart dialogue and pacing, and a decent score, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD is a must-see. A truly underrated gem. 8/10. 3 stars (out of 4). Should just enter my Top 250 at 248. Highly recommended.
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