Reviewed Jul 16, 2012
Ghuznee Film Society Review: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
d. Sidney Lumet
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei
When a film opens with Philip Seymour Hoffman fucking, you know that it won’t be the only wild ride of the film. Such is the case with Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Here’s a perfect dose of schadenfreude as we watch bad people make worse mistakes and devolve into desperate crime.
It’s anchored by believable, three dimensional characters across the board, with Ethan Hawke in particular drawing sympathy and humanity from the deadbeat father with next to no redeeming qualities that he plays. The restrained style of filmmaking serves the ambitious Pulp Fiction-esque chronology, saving it from potential gimmickry.
If you’re after any kind of positive resolution from your films, give this one a miss, it’s as bleak as they come and doesn’t let up. Even the occasional humour is diluted away by the terrifying mess everyone’s in.