My five hundred favorite films (1940-2014)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
No one was supposed to get hurt.
When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents' jewelry store, the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that send them and their family hurtling towards a shattering climax.
Whenever people make lists with favourite or best directors, Sidney Lumet hardly ever pops up. That should change. Look at his filmography. He is one of the best directors that ever worked in the industry.
This film is modern noir at its finest. It is bleak, rather disturbing and dark as hell. The story, which unravels in an asynchronous chronology, is multilayered and keeps you guessing due to its fragmented narrative. Only a very talented director can add the much needed coherence a story like this needs.
What Lumet understands very well is to give his actors the right amount of space to inhabit their characters. There is not one weak performance here. The main cast is superb, moved along…
Dear god, what a dismal tale. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is an exercise in taking an instance of 'it can't get any worse, can it?' and making it much, much worse in the very next scene. I certainly don't mean in the quality of the film, which is superb, but in the depths of misfortune one family can sink to. This is tragedy of such magnitude that The Bard himself would be proud, compounded by the fact that all the misfortune is due to greed and ineptitude. Sidney Lumet's swan song deserves a place in the pantheon of 'bleakest films ever,' which makes this familial train wreck all the more morbidly fascinating.
Not a single role here is…
After losing one of the best actors of our generation today, Philip Seymour Hoffman, I wanted to check more of his films. He left behind an amazing body of work and I've only seen maybe half of it. I started with Sidney Lumet's dark and brilliant noir Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
The script here is so damn good. Keeping you invested in characters that are very unlikable. The cast is terrific, with Hoffman and Ethan Hawke both giving great performances. Albert Finney was probably the standout to me however. Not only is this yet another great performance from Hoffman, but it's one of 2007's most underrated films and a great film for Lumet to have ended his career with.
Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead tells the story of three people from the same family, but on a Saturday morning on the outskirts of New York, everything seems normal in the life of the Hanson family. The father, Charles passed the driving test and his wife Nanette is going to the a family jewelery. As the eldest son, Andy is worried about a scheduled inspection of the finances for the following Monday and the younger brother, Hank, as usual, is worried about his money problems. However, at 7:58 a.m. Saturday morning, the lives of the members of this family will change because both Andy and Hank decide to rob their family's business.
If we look closely, Before…
Even though I saw this years ago, I was still completely surprised by everything that happened during this recent re-watch. All I remember from the last time I saw it was that I liked it. This time, I fell head over heels in love. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is essentially a family drama masquerading as a crime drama. Andy and Hank are brothers in very different stages in their lives. When Andy asks Hank to rob a jewelry store, everything goes wrong and the rest of the film is concerned with how their lives fall apart and how fucked up their family is.
This is definitely Phillip Seymour Hoffman's best performance, and that's a big deal. He always…
It's quite astounding to realise Sidney Lumet filmed Before the Devil Knows Your Dead when he was over eighty years old, after five decades as a critically acclaimed director responsible for many genuine Hollywood classics, because though it's often quite masterfully put together it's also filled with the energy & skill of a man five decades his junior - and frankly many directors in their thirties don't make films this good. Sadly it was also Lumet's last film before his death a few years later, but what an epilogue to a triumphant career; this is by turns a carefully lensed, cleverly written, well edited and superbly acted drama ostensibly about a heist gone wrong but primarily about a deeply dysfunctional American…
Oh boy. Now that certainly wasn't what Hoffman and Hawke were hoping for when they decided to go through with that robbery...!
Before the Dvil Knows You're Dead is a surprisingly multilayered crime thriller with a tight neo-noir script, depicting a family in free-fall. After countless incidents of screwing up and things just going to shit, this family is forever changed.
Every actor step up their game and give their absolute best, helping Lumet to create some really intense and memorable scenes. Especially the climax left me stunned and shocked. It's the building up to it however, that makes this such a great film.
It's not perfect though. I felt that the narrative was perhaps a little too jumpy at times, and I didn't care too much for the rather flat and weirdly lit visuals.
However, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is still a fitting end to Lumet's undeniable legacy of high-quality cinema.
This the sort of heist film gone wrong that would have David Mamet salivating. Instead, veteran director Sidney Lumet takes the helm and gives us a film that while at times feels like a movie of the week, still delivers class performances and an exciting tale. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as brothers are great, even though you could never really believe they were related. Marisa Tomei reminds us why she got her Oscar. And Albert Finney turns in a solid performance as always. My only gripe with the film was the photography, which I would have liked to have been more polished. It’s this element (I think it was shot on video) that gives the film that TV movie feel.
Sidney Lumet's last movie as a director, before he died in 2011, was this crime drama... and what a drama it was! No wonder that it was selected as one of 2007's ten most influential American films by the American Film Institute at the 2007 AFI Awards calling the director "a living treasure". A real pleasure to watch, involving all senses and existing emotions. Written by Kelly Masterson, the film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney. The title comes from the Irish saying: "May you be in heaven a full half-hour before the devil knows you're dead". The beauty of the story is that unfolds non-linearly, repeatedly going back and forth in time, with some…
A very stylistic thriller that in my opinion, loses much of it's potential from it's extremely non linear structure. Told from the point of view of quite a few family members, any potential suspense was lost for me in the extreme cuts.
It's a bit too much of a sweeping tragedy (It could have been more subtle), but it's still pretty excellent (and harrowing)
Philip Seymour Hoffman's acting always leaves me breathless.This movie is very close to a Greek ancient tragedy,yet very modern.R.I.P Philip Seymour Hoffman.You will be missed.
Mix some Charlie Kaufman with some Quentin Tarantino and you'll have something close to Before The Devil Knows You're Dead. At its core, the movie is a family drama wrapped around bad decisions and heroin. Hoffman delivers what you'd expect from Hoffman--very fitting for this sort of movie. Hawke is a bit weak, but serviceable as Hoffman's misfit brother. A movie full of twists and turns and forseeable hell. Of course, the problem with recalling both Kaufman and Tarantino is that this movie can't touch either of them, so it feels lesser just by virtue of the comparison.
I am convinced this would be a five star film if it was told chronologically from just Philip Seymour Hoffman's character's point of view. And not because of his bravura performance looking at himself in the mirror while giving it to Marisa Tomei in the first scene.
Very possibly the greatest performance of Hoffman's entire career. Totally unlike anything I've seen of him before. He's done rage, pathos, depression, humor, and bravado in other roles before, but rarely displays more than two in one film. Here we get a real chance to see a master at work, showcasing every ounce of his talent in a very meaty (though not outlandish or hammy) role. The peak of PSH.
As it is, it's a great film, but the thematic flourishes only bog it down in the end.
And you thought your family had issues!
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- About Last Night...
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