Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

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btdkydThis one’s a grabber.

Sidney Lumet is 85 years old.  He’s made some great movies (“Dog Day Afternoon”, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”), some really good ones (“Serpico”, “Network”) and some real crap (“The Wiz”, anyone?).  He would have been well within his rights to hang it up long ago, rest on his considerable laurels and leave the movie-making to the young whipper-snappers.  But he’s managed to squeeze out a real thriller here.  Did I mention that he’s 85?  85!

I turned this one on at a fairly late hour, assuming I’d watch an hour or so and finish watching it the next night.  I was a sleepy boy at work the next day.  Guess why.

I don’t share the aversion to spoilers that most people do, but it would be a shame to give too much away about this movie.  So I’ll just give you a few tidbits to chew on before popping it into your Netflix queue.

  • Terrific cast, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris and Marisa Tomei.  (Oh, and Ethan Hawke.)
  • Very compelling plot involving two very different brothers who need money for very different reasons and what they do to get it. It’s an easy job that, surprise surprise, does not go as planned.
  • The structure of the film bounces back and forth in time.  We learn early on what the end result of the job is, but we go back to fill in pieces and forward to explore the aftermath.  Both directions shed light on the story and on the characters.
  • The look on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s face as he performs an act that he was hoping to avoid performing is pure thespian heroism.  He’s fantastic.
  • Marisa Tomei.  Wow.  This woman is 44.  And…  Wow.  Just wow.

It lost me just a wee bit at the end, but the whole enterprise was gripping.  You won’t be able to turn it off until it’s over.  And it’ll play in your head long after that.

Oh, and Sidney Lumet is off making another movie.

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One Response to “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)”

  1. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I remember being intrigued by the film’s title when it first came out, but that was as far as it went. I’ll pick it up the next time I’m in the video shop (I’m one of the few people left who doesn’t have Netflix…)

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