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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (DVD, 2008)

Sidney Lumet, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke | Theatrical release: 2007 | Rating: R (MPAA)
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BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOURE DEAD (DVD) (DOL DIG/ENG/WS) NLA
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Movie synopsis
From the unexpectedly graphic opening shot, director Sidney Lumet proves he hasn't lost any of his bite with age. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD is a riveting suspense thriller that retains the director's classic approach to storytelling while updating it at the same time. Working from an intense, expertly woven script by playwright-turned-screenwriter Kelly Masterson, Lumet establishes his tragic tone immediately. The story concerns a New York family with a roiling undercurrent of dysfunction. The eldest son, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is a frustrated, drug-abusing stockbroker who is unable to satisfy his gorgeous wife (Marisa Tomei). The youngest son, Hank (Ethan Hawke), is passive and struggles to make alimony payments. Their parents (Albert Finney and Rosemary Harris) live in Westchester and operate a small jewelry store. Their lives begin to unravel when Andy approaches Hank about pulling off a heist that will seemingly solve all of their monetary problems. Everything about this idea is risky, yet Andy convinces his timid younger brother that this is his only way out of his current situation. Naturally, their plan falls apart, resulting in a series of tragedies that they never could have predicted.BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD belongs beside such Lumet classics as DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NETWORK, and SERPICO. The cinematography and editing and score are all excellent, but the performances are what launch the film into the stratosphere. Oscar-winner Hoffman (CAPOTE) and Finney have never been better, and the rest of the cast--Hawke, Tomei, Michael Shannon--rise to the occasion with unforgettable results.

Product Details
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Rating: R (MPAA)
  • Film Country: USA
  • UPC: 014381487527

Additional Details
Genre:Dramas
Format:DVD

eBay Product ID: EPID64290959

Editorial reviews

3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Lumet fuses dark wit, suspense and tragedy into a time-shifting movie that vibrates with energy. All the actors are first-rate..."
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers (11/01/2007)

"Lumet energizes the material by continually shifting the audience's perspective on the characters....Hoffman gives a sharply etched performance."
Box Office - Kevin Courrier (11/01/2007)

"[Lumet] works with vigor and cunning and wide-awake elegance of a virtuoso half his age....Lumet's talent is, in every sense, timeless." -- Grade: A
Entertainment Weekly - Owen Gleiberman (11/02/2007)

"A tense anti-caper...that's part thriller and part Greek tragedy....In it, Lumet breaks down the moral cause-and-effect process..."
Los Angeles Times - Carina Chocano (11/02/2007)

Ranked #8 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "Lumet takes a first-rate script by Kelly Masterson and keeps it popping."
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers (12/27/2007)

4 stars out of 5 -- "[W]hat is impressive is its youth, energy, and its willingness to play games with storytelling..."
Uncut - Damon Wise (02/01/2008)

4 stars out of 5 -- "[Lumet is] doing some of his best work, as this bleak, almost Shakespearean tragedy conclusively proves."
Empire - Helen O'Hara (02/01/2008)

"Hoffman masterfully essays the elder brother's manipulative string-pulling..."
Sight and Sound - Samuel Wigley (02/01/2008)

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Customer Reviews

Average review score based on 21 user reviews

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Created: 03/31/08

Lumet does Tolstoy

Review For: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (DVD, 2008)

Sydney Lumet hasn't had a box office hit in 20 years and yet at 83 has managed to churn out a tight, well-cast, suspenseful thriller set in his old stamping ground, New York City. (How he got insurance, let alone the budget after all those flops, is a mystery also). The story is a pretty grim one and the characters are not particularly likable but it held me on the edge of my seat till the final scene.

Two brothers with pressing financial problems conspire to rob a suburban jewelry store owned by their elderly parents. The only victim is going to be the insurance company. The robbery goes awry and two people die. Most of the film is concerned with the aftermath. The action is non-linear and seen from the main character's differing points of view, but it is not difficult to follow. What is not so easy to work out is the back story – how did the brothers get into such a mess? There are clues – the younger brother being the baby of the family is his fathers' favorite while the older brother seems to be carrying a lot of baggage about his relationship with his father, and vice versa, but that hardly accounts for him becoming a heroin-using murdering embezzler.

As the scheming older brother, a corpulent Philip Seymour Hoffman dominates the film, but he is well supported by Ethan Hawke as his bullied, inadequate younger brother. Albert Finney as their father seems to be in a constant state of rage but then the script calls for that. Marisa Tomei as the older brother's cheating wife at the age of 42 puts in the sexiest performance I've seen in many a year. The film literally starts with a bang, but we are out of that comfort zone pretty quickly.

I don't know the origins of this story by first time scriptwriter Kelly Masterton but I suspect that like Lumet's great 70's film "Dog Day Afternoon" it is based on fact – it's too silly to be untrue. Lumet is just about the last of those immensely versatile old-time craftsman studio directors who with immense speed were able to direct just about anything that was put in front of them. Some great films were produced that way as well as some classic turkeys. This isn't a classic of either sort – it's a well-crafted piece of downbeat entertainment. It will probably leave you feeling that you were lucky not be a member of a family as dysfunctional as this one, but still wondering as to how they got that way. We do know the parents were happy but we see so little of the mother and hear so little about her it is impossible pick up on her relationship with the boys. (There is also a daughter whose presence seems redundant). Well, like Tolstoy, we have to conclude that "each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way".

0 of 1 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 05/13/09

Very clever, yet very depressing and dark

Before the Devil knows you're dead is a film that immediately forces you into the lives of the two brothers who are quite different, yet stick together until things go way too awry for Andy (Philip Seymour Huffman) who is now 42 and seems to be at the end of his rope on his finances and his drug habits and proposes a heist with his younger brother.

Turns out that the Young Brother robs his own parents jewelry store and the mother gets shot. All hell brakes loose as we watch them all try and hide things from their father (Albert Finney), however the father discovers what Andy has done and chokes him to death in the hospital after being shot.

This film is very heart wrenching and terrifically thrilling and chilling. You find yourself feeling sorry for Andy when he says "The thing about real estate accounting is that you can...you can add down the page or across the page and everything works out. Everyday, everything adds up. The..the total is always the sum of its parts. It's, uh, clean. It's clear. Neat, absolute. But my life, it, uh, it doesn't add up. It, uh... nothing connects to anything else. It's, uh... I'm not, I'm not the sum of my parts. All my parts don't add up to one... to one me, I guess."

His character is stuck in a cage he, himself, put them in and has no other choice than to try and fix it.

Ethan Hawke, the older brother tries to reason with Huffman's character, but it seems he has no turning back. The end is very sad and makes you feel defeated.
The depressive tone to this movie was needed to make the point, but it sure makes the viewer have to live through this together so that you can then appreciate the kind of dysfunctional life we all could live depending on our own decisions and the decisions of others.

This film won and was nominated for 7-9 awards.

4/5 is all I can give this one because this movie never really taught me the lesson maybe the director was trying to get through to the viewer. Sydney Lumet is still a wonderful director at 83 but I like many of his older movies better such as Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico (1973).

THANKS FOR REVIEWING THIS AND FEEL FREE TO TELL ME HOW I DID BY VOTING.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 05/13/09

Lumet Makes a Dark, Depressing Film of Greed and Evil

Before the Devil knows you're dead is a film that immediately forces you into the lives of the two brothers who are quite different, yet stick together. The character Andy at 42 (Philip Seymour Huffman) seems to be at the end of his rope on his finances and his drug habits and proposes a heist with his younger brother.
Turns out that the Young Brother robs his own parents jewelry store and the mother gets shot. All hell brakes lose as we watch them all try and hid things up from their father.

This film is very heart wrenching and terrifically thrilling and chilling. You find yourself feeling sorry for Huffman when he says "The thing about real estate accounting is that you can, you can, add down the page or across the page and everything works out. Everyday, everything adds up. The, the total is always the sum of its parts. It's, uh, clean. It's clear. Neat, absolute. But my life, it, uh, it doesn't add up. It, uh... Nothing connects to anything else. It's, uh... I'm not, I'm not the sum of my parts. All my parts don't add up to one... to one me, I guess." His character is stuck in a cage he himself put them in and you have no other choice than to try to fix it.

Ethan Hawke, the older brother tries to reason with Huffman's character, but it seems he has no turning back. The end is very sad and make you feel defeated.
The depressive tone to this movie was need to make the point, but it sure makes the viewer have to live through this together so that you can then appreciate the kind of dsyfunctional life we all could live depending on our own decisions and the decisions of other.

This film won and was nominated for 7-9 awards

3/3 is all I can give this one because movie never really taught me the lesson maybe the director was trying to get through to the viewer. Sydney Lumet is still a wonderful director at 83 but I like many of his older movie like Dog Day Afternoon Better.

THANKS FOR REVIEWING THIS AND FEEL FREE TO TELL ME HOW I DID BY VOTING.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 10/17/08

Weird Strange Get The Picture?

Review For: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (DVD, 2008)

Too bad there isn't a rating that says "ok??!!" this film was strange from the get go it's bad enough it's one of those damn flashback films, but the storyline was daft, the acting was great..the premise was ok..the title makes no sense! Film starts out with a old geezer and his "Wife" going at it like rabbits..while he watches himself in the mirror (can we say eeew)..here's the story two brothers one seemingly successful, the other a loser with a ex Wife and a Daughter he wont or maybe can't support..they are both hurting for money so the older brother talks his younger brother into pulling a robbery..he has chosen a mom and pop jewelry store the younger brother agrees then talks his friend into helping out..the friend is unware the store belongs to someone close to the two brothers..it's their moms and dads store..they choose a morning when the elderly manager will be working or so they think...the friend brings a gun and all hell breaks loose.....the dad finds out what has happened and look out he's mad! this film is about a truly dysfunctional family..not sure if I like it or hated it..See tis movie and judge for yourself..

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Created: 05/06/09

You must follow closely

Review For: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (DVD, 2008)

I watched this movie a couple of times before I really got into it..I thought it was really really good..The acting by Hawke and Hoffman are stellar..Then throw in the sexyness of Tomei as she pays a role that I never thought I d see her play...WOW she looks really hot in this film...The plan that brothers Hawke and Hoffman set up goes haywire and their mom is killed in a botched robbery at their family owned jewlery store.This movie is suspensful and has some real nice twists and turns..I definately had my interest.Only problem is that the ending is alittle weak and leaves you somewhat disappointed and confused..Otherwise I would recommend this film to anyone who wants to see a real good thriller.....Gooch

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