Saturday, November 17, 2007

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Leon casino,

Sidney Lumet has made some of the finest American films since his debut with 12 Angry Men in the late 50s. His strength, which he plays here, is to depict bumblers trying to commit crimes for the first time. Think Dog Day Afternoon.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is Lumet's second strong film in the last couple of years, the other being Find Me Guilty. Where FMG was more of a straight arrow court drama, BTDKYD unwinds with a totally non-linear narrative and most of the colors tweaked for high contrast.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are brothers who scheme to rob their parents jewelry store. "It's an easy mom and pop shop in a strip mall" they intone. Of course everything goes horribly wrong in the most tragic manner possible.
Aiding and abetting are Marisa Tomei (who is impossibly beautiful in this film) and Albert Finney. Hawke in particular really nails his character, a typical divorced dad so burdened with child support and debt he cannot fathom the consequences of his actions.
BTDKYD contains some strong images of drug use and adultry and at times borders on B-movie trashiness. That's when it's firing on all pistons.

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