Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
No one was supposed to get hurt.
Two brothers organize the robbery of a jewelry store. The job goes horribly wrong, triggering off a series of events that send them and their family hurtling towards a shattering climax.
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…
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…
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.
It’s getting to the stage where it goes without saying that Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers a breathtaking performance. He’s done it so often throughout his career and here, alongside an equally impressive Ethan Hawke, he presents another encapsulating character. From the brief moments of comedy to the emotional arguments, the chemistry the two leads share is nothing short of fantastic.
Sidney Lumet’s direction is once again fantastic, which much like the star is as expected. The veteran director’s style is once again displayed with energetic freedom. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is another crime drama film that he exceeds at, but with the added caveat of a gripping non-linear narrative.
This is Lumet’s last film before his death in 2011 and this beautifully constructed exploration of family dysfunction and criminal incompetence is a perfect way to end his career. Despite having only seen four of his films, Sidney Lumet is fast becoming one of my favourite directors.
I liked this movie the first time I saw it back in 2008, but I never realized just how amazing it truly is.
On my initial viewing, I saw it as just a thriller, and in that respect, it worked. But at the time, I didn't know what film noir was or how it translated to modern times or anything like that, but since then, I've done plenty of research and have only just realized that I wasn't looking at the movie the right way.
This is neo-noir if there ever was one. It has all the hallmarks of the style: there's Tomei's impossibly beautiful femme fatale, who functions only as a woman who wants Hoffman's money, and the only…
Sidney Lumet is, in my opinion, the most underrated Hollywood director of all time. Not one of the most underrated, the most underrated. It really is a mystery how classics like 12 Angry men, Dog Day afternoon, the Verdict, Serpico and of course Network (which is an eternal favourite of mine) have garnered so much praise while Lumet's name still remains unknown to most. I have had many a conversation with people who are familiar with his work, but don't know his name. It is infuriating and unfair! I think I might just take it upon myself to spread the good word of Lumet.
I instinctively compared this movie with his previous works and his direction isn't quite as assured…
At the beginning of this film you feel like you've been let in on a big secret by the second scene. You know the identity of the person wearing the mask, so you wonder, how is Mr. Lumet going to make a good ending?
But of course, things are not at all as they seem. Things begin to unfold in a sort of reverse chronological order.
We're given a single event, examine the history of the event with one character, then when we come to the end of their side, we switch over to another's history.
Much like a Coen Brothers film, nothing goes as planned. And it's excellent.
Things slowly begin to unfold, and all goes awry, and it's all made even better by a splendid cast and incredible direction and cinematography.
Also, this film features the most calmly conducted Citizen Kane throwing-everything-off-of-the-tables moment ever performed.
A.K.A. Wow, that scene was depressing, surely it can't get much worse for the characters in the next scene: The Movie
At first, you think it's neo-noir, but as the tragedy unfolds, the style becomes clear: it's modern Shakespeare, with its familiar tale of crime infused with a unique, bleak "welcome to the dysfunctional family" edge.
The performances, each and every one, are just stupidly good. Too bad the overbearing musical score and the very blah cinematography hold it back from masterpiece-status.
Another Lumet masterclass in steadily ratcheting tension.
What a bleak story. One of the bleakest stories ever told in film. Philip Seymour Hoffman is terrific as always, and Sidney Lumet direction is fantastic.
I really liked how the story was told in a non-linear way. We see things, and then from another character's prespective we see how it happened.
For example, we see Hawk's character come home, and see the window outside his house is broken. About ten minutes later, from Hoffman's perspective, we see him break that window.
I really don't want to spoil the film, but it is really good and bleak. Its a shame Lumet died after making this film.
'May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you're dead.'
I'm confused: where exactly in the "Before..." trilogy does this one fit?
Top notch performances (especially from Hoffman), tight structure and evenly paced. However, this is a drama centered on unlikeable characters doing terrible things. A narrative that just didn't sit well with me. I would rather have seen a pulp/thriller version.