Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet) 2007

Production Budget: $18 million
Gross: $8 million

Two brothers Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank (Ethan Hawke) are in financial trouble.  Andy is being audited for his dubious business practices and Hank is a loser who needs money for child support.  The two plan a heist of his father’s jewelry store for the money they need.  The heist is supposed to be without guns and nobody was supposed to be hurt.  However things do not go as planned and the two brothers have to deal the consequences of their actions.

Devil is a wonderfully done psychological thriller and its a wonder Lumet still has it at age 83.  The story is told in a chopped up time narrative.  While this sometimes smacks of being just a gimmick at times, most of the time it helps to keep things moving quickly and holds the audiences interest.  Hoffman is great as the stronger and more conniving brother Andy.  Hawke also does a good job as the weak willed sheepish brother Hank.  Both characters are fully realized and their actions drive the plot and the suspense.

The suspense comes not from actions from the outside world but driven by the characters.  I’m sure maybe if the two brothers really wanted to they could have committed the perfect crime.  But both have to come to terms with the guilt of their actions and what they believe in as far as morality and justice.  Its hard to pull off psychological tension in a film but sometimes the tension is so thick and more compelling than any car chase.  Of the two films reviewed here today, I definitely recommend Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead instead of Cassandra’s Dream.  It is a more powerful film and a shame no one saw it.  Sidney Lumet is definitely not someone who deserves two bombs.


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