Each week I'll post a new letter and all you have to do is nominate a film that you think…
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.
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…
The late, great Sidney Lumet's final film, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is an intense, very well-made thriller that has more than a few surprises up its sleeve and floats easily on the strength of its lead actors, who give impressive performances. Definitely one I'll need to see again, but at first glance is still a damn great movie.
A movie with many standout moments, the one that chills to the bone is the heroin sequence and Hoffman's drug hazed mumbling of life regrets. It's a drawn out sequence as if movie-time has paused for a drug break. Calculated, collected and quiet as death. Hoffman is at the top of his form as he always was, but there's an eerie tapping into real life in his molding of Andy as a withdrawn, disillusioned drug addict that adds a lot of heavy weight to the film. It's just feels good knowing Lumet's last film was made with Hoffman and it's as good as it is. Many great filmmakers this Hoffman guy worked with. Not many of his peers could brag about having Lumet on their check list.
Firstly, I want to apologise, I was supposed to be rocketing through films over the next few weeks, how even this week I've ended up dedicating to catching up with TV. Currently I've finished off the fourth season of The Walking Dead (yep, still convinced that show will eventually find it's stride), and I'm half way through True Detective (which is as superbly crafted as you've heard) and the second season of Game of Thrones after failing to get into it over Christmas (the second season is way better than the first and I'm finding myself getting further and further hooked onto it). More films will be coming soon after this week, I promise you guys.
But that aside, let's…
Thank God this was Sidney Lumet's last film and not FIND ME GUILTY. With across the board brilliant performances, this neo-noir is boiling with anger and lost souls. Few can do a heist film like Lumet, fewer can explore consequences the way he did. A great end to an amazing career.
The screwy narrative allowed the film to add extra depth to the characters while it simultaneously made it lose some momentum and suspense.
Lots of great stuff though. We got Hoffmann and Hawke in top form. An aging director kicking ass, and a bleak as hell script.
Fascinating film about how the desperation of man can motivate an individual to act out in despicable ways. Sydney Lumet's melodrama is gripping, emotional, and telling. Every cast member was superb, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman (of course, right?); specifically, Mr. Hoffman's portrayal of Andy's emotional breakdown in the car, and Andy's drug induced monologue, Hoffman was perfect. In light of Hoffman's death, I couldn't help but assign a connection between Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in the film, Andy, and the personal difficulties he was dealing with offstage.
δεν είναι βέβαια μόνο το θέμα του SPH, καθώς ο lumet λειτουργεί κ εδώ σε ευθεία γραμμή άγχους με το dog day afternoon κ το serpico...
όμως είναι κυρίως η μαεστρία του ψυχογράμματος της ανεξέλλεγκτης πτώσης του andy hanson, που τόσο ανατριχιαστικά προεξοφλεί τη δική του έξοδο, που κάνει την ερμηνεία του PSH (κ εδώ) μοναδική.
ας μην ξεχάσω πάντως τον μεγάλο albert finney καθώς κ τον μικρό ethan hawk, ακριβέστατοι κ οι δύο σε μία τριανδρία αρρωστημένων οικογενειακών σχέσεων. έτσι, μένει μόνο ένα ερώτημα, ετεροχρονισμένο, ρητορικό κ αδύναμο, στη σκιά μιας γιγαντιαίας απουσίας:
Such an intense film. One of the best performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Really enjoyed it.
Philip C Hoffman is in it but there is no painted red man with horns in it.
That`s just fairy tales....
Sidney Lumet had quite the directing range.
I mean, in the late 50s, he directed 12 Angry Men. And 50 years later, he was still going, and directed this epic piece of art.
It's a dark thriller, with an incredible cast and a brilliant story of desperation.
Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a surprisingly subtle performance, apart from his shouting scenes which are to be expected in any Hoffman performance apart from Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Capote (to my knowledge).
The film really holds together and is told in spectacular fashion, with flashbacks and different sides of the story.
Another great one from Lumet.
- The Big City
- Bigger Than Life
- Bad Boy Bubby
- About Last Night...
- The Accidental Tourist
- Across the Universe
Every film Roger Ebert has given a four-star rating. This is an ongoing project.
- Apocalypse Now
- Fight Club
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of…
- The Big Lebowski
As of 8th April 2014.