When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents' jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother's wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.
Release Year: 2007
Rating: 7.3/10 (49,577 voted)
Critic's Score: 84/100
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney
Needing extra cash, two brothers conspire to pull off the perfect, victimless crime. No guns, no violence, no problem. But when an accomplice ignores the rules and crosses the line, his actions trigger a series of events in which no one is left unscathed.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Brían F. O'Byrne
No one was supposed to get hurt.
Release Date: 26 September 2007
Filming Locations: Bayside, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: £118,510
(13 January 2008)
(9 March 2008)
(Toronto International Film Festival)
Did You Know?
The high-heeled shoes that Marisa Tomei wears in her nude scene with Ethan Hawke are her own shoes.
Gina's panties are white in the up-skirt as she sits on the steps of Hank's apartment. When Gina goes into Hank's apartment and gets undressed, her panties are black.
You don't look happy. Mind if I call you "Groucho"?
Andrew 'Andy' Hanson:
No, I don't mind.
Do you Mind if I Call you Chico?
Two dysfunctional brothers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) get
tired of competing for who is the bigger f***-up and who Daddy (Albert
Finney) loves more, so they hatch a hair-brained scheme to rob Mommy
and Daddy's jewelry store so that they can clear their debts and start
fresh. Sounds like a great plan except that this is a suspenseful
1970's style melodrama about a heist gone wrong, and boy, do things
really go wrong here for our hapless duo and everyone involved.
Lasciviously concocted by screenwriter Kelly Masterson and classically
executed by director Sidney Lumet, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"
uses the heist as its McGuffin to delve deep into family drama.
Contrary to popular belief, Sidney Lumet is not dead. At age 83, he has
apparently made a deal with the Devil to deliver one last great film.
Lumet was at his zenith in the 1970's with films like "Dog Day
Afternoon," "Serpico," and one of my favorite films of all time,
"Network". He has somehow managed to make a film that bears all the
hallmarks of his classics while intertwining some more modern elements
(graphic sexuality, violence, and playing with time-frames and POV's)
into a crackling, vibrant, lean, mean, and provocative melodrama. One
can only hope that some of the modern greats (like Scorsese or
Spielberg) who emerged during the same decade Lumet was at the top of
his game will have this much chutzpah left when they reach that age.
Lumet is a master at directing people walking through spaces to create
tension and develop characters. As the cast waltzes through finely
appointed Manhattan offices and apartments his slowly moving camera
creates a palpable sense of anxiety as we never know who might be
around the next corner or what this person might do in the next room.
Also amazing is how Lumet utilizes the multiple POV and shifting
time-frame approach. The coherent and classical presentation he uses
makes the similarly structured films of wunderkinds Christopher Nolan
and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu seem like amateur hour.
Of course, what Lumet is best at is directing amazing ensemble casts
and tricking them into acting within an inch of their lives. Philip
Seymour Hoffman has never been, and most likely never will be, better
than he is here. Albert Finney's quietly searing portrayal of a father
betrayed and at the end of his rope is a masterpiece to watch unfold.
Ethan Hawke, normally a nondescript pretty boy, is perfect as the
emotionally crippled younger brother who has skated by far too long on
his charms and looks. The coup-de-grace, however, is the series of
scenes between Hoffman and Marisa Tomei, eerily on point as his flighty
trophy wife. Lumet runs them through the gamut of emotions that
culminate in a scene that is the best of its kind since William Holden
taunted Beatrice Straight right into a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in
The Devil of any great film is in the details, from Albert Finney's tap
of his car's trunk that won't close due to a fender bender, to the look
Amy Ryan (fresh off her amazing turn in "Gone Baby Gone") gives her
ex-husband Ethan Hawke at his mawkish promise to his little girl all
three of them knows he won't keep, to the systematic unraveling of a
family on the skids, to the dialog begging for cultists to quote it (my
favorite line being the hilariously threatening "Do you mind if I call
you Chico?") to the excellent Carter Burwell score. "Before the Devil
Knows You're Dead" is the film of the year. If something emerges to
best it, then we know a few other deals must've been brokered with Old