Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Step 1: Get him drunk – Check! Now on to step 2 …

Theatrical Release Date: 10/26/2007
Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, Aleksa Palladino, Rosemary Harris, Amy Ryan

It has taken me a couple of days after watching this movie to write the review because I didn’t know how I would approach doing so. When that happens I usually just try to tackle it it head on, but this movie is so damn heavy that doing so is difficult. That doesn’t mean it is not good – because I think it is terrific – but the subject matter cuts deep.

The plot of the movie revolves around two brothers, Andy and Hank, portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke respectively. They are deeply flawed but highly realistic people; Andy is addicted to heroin and has been embezzling money from his company, while Hank is divorced and can’t afford his child support payments or his daughter’s school expenses. Meanwhile, Hank is also banging his brother’s wife (Marisa Tomei). Andy deduces that these are problems that can be solved with money. Money their parents have as a result of running a jewelry store in a nondescript shopping mall and money which Andy decides they should take with an intended-to-be simple robbery. This movie is the story of the incredible amount of shit that hits the incredibly large fan once they decide to go ahead with their plans.

It is an actor’s job to get the audience to empathize with what their character is feeling, and all of these performers are superb at doing that. That makes this movie tough to watch because whatever the characters do, their situations keep getting worse – and the characters are so believable you have sit there and empathize with them. It got so heavy I had to stop the movie a few times just to collect myself.

The movie is also shot and presented incredibly well. It’s non-chronological, so I guess I have to mention “Pulp Fiction”, since most movies that are presented in this fashion do. But this is better than that. On numerous occasions what is presented in one scene as part of the background becomes the foreground of a later scene. Thus, as the movie goes on the entire story comes into focus.

In any case, if you like good acting and want a refresher course on what fear, desperation, regret, sadness, and pain feel like, I really recommend you check this one out. I was going to give this one a 4 out of 5, but that’s what, like a low B?? (Hank considers it a B+) Considering the quality of acting and presentation, plus the fact that you see Marissa Tomei’s tits whenever she is on-screen, this movie is better than a low B. Thus, I’ll give “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” the full 5 out of 5 it deserves.