"Before the Devil Knows You're
Directed by Sidney Lumet.
Written by Kelly Masterson.
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 11/7/07
Sidney Lumet is back!! After doing
some not-so-great flicks over the last 20 years, Lumet--now a
whopping 84 years young--does good, understated work with the new
thriller "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", great because it
features a steady diet of strong acting, a chronologically-hopping
plot and incessant shots of Marisa Tomei's breasts.
Set in New York, the film starts off by
showing an older woman who runs a jewelry store in a Westchester
strip mall getting robbed by a guy in a black hood. A few
gunshots later and both principals are bleeding to death...and, then
we learn how we got there. Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and
Hank (Ethan Hawke) are brothers who are not doing so well with the
cash-money. Hank's behind on child care payments and Andy's
got a shady tendency to buy drugs from a dealer uptown. Andy's
got an idea--rob the family-owned jewelry store, since his parents
run it...since insurance would cover the losses, it's a win-win
situation for the boys and for the recovery of cash needed by the
business. So, without telling the plan to his wife (Tomei),
Andy decides that Hank should be the one who actually robs the bank,
so Hank gets a friend to help him rob the store blind and that's
where things really get interesting.
Hawke and Hoffman are great at playing these
sad, desperate characters; just the urgency they bring to their
respective parts make the film thrilling to watch. Tomei never wows
you but she doesn't get in the way of the proceedings, either, as
the wife who questions just what the hell her husband is doing with
his life...and, as mentioned, she is half-naked quite a bit in this
film. Later, we get to meet the boys' parents, played by
Albert Finney and Rosemary Harris; Finney, in particular, is strong
as a man who loses a lot in a short amount of time and has to make
sense of it all way too quickly. The way the plot skips around
makes all of this come together well in the beginning and well in
the end, although the middle-to-late portion of this gets a little
I think that all of this works because Lumet
seems to harken back to movies that he directed many moons ago, like
"12 Angry Men"; I really liked how much drama Lumet creates in the
spaces allowed in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", mainly by
just having Seymour work against another of the film's stars to chew
the fat on a set. The film looks nice but certainly not
extravagant, and this vanilla palette allows the stars to shine.
Check this one out soon; playing at an indie theater near you.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard