Movie Review – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

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The title of the movie is taken from an Irish toast, ‘May you have food and raiment, a soft pillow for your head; may you be 40 years in heaven, before the devil knows you’re dead.’

Directed by 83 year old master, Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon), ‘Devil’ is a gripping and moving cinema experience. Two brothers, Andy and Hank Hanson, need money, and fast. The manipulative Andy comes up with a plan for Hank to rob the jewellery store owned by their elderly parents, however the devil is in the detail, and things quickly go wrong, with disastrous consequences.

Lumet makes great use of chronological jumps backwards and forwards in time, and shows the same scenes from various characters’ points of view, to slowly provide the audience with more and more information about the story. Sort of like Memento, but a bit easier to follow.

The cast are brilliant – Philip Seymour Hoffman seems a strange choice as the bitter and twisted Andy, though he pulls it off well (and gets to enjoy one of his rare on-screen pants-off moments – not a pretty sight); Ethan Hawke is perfect as the bumbling and downtrodden Hank; Marisa Tomei provides a nice balance as Andy’s unsatisfied wife Gina (her pants-off moments make much better viewing); and Albert Finney is convincing as Charles Hanson, the patriarch of the family. The stars feed off each other expertly, and bring newcomer Kelly Masterton’s excellent script to life.

Only a couple of criticisms: I thought a couple of Hoffman’s scenes were a bit overplayed, and the ending was a little unsatisfying, but overall, ‘Devil’ was an entertaining film and earns 4 stars.

The movie was also memorable for the complete stranger who sat next to me and peppered me with movie questions and commentary before and after the film. A strange dude indeed. Wakes thought he had a thing for me. Methinks chemicals played some role in his strangeness…

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One Response to Movie Review – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

  1. roaf says:

    Sounds like it has a good pedigree.
    I forgot Sidney Lumet was still alive!

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