Movie: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

February 10, 2008

Fantastic movie and I’m going to review it not only without giving away any of the plot but without even mentioning the plot in any way whatsoever.

movie poster Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead -has big name stars such as Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, and directed by Sidney Lumet yet this film retains all the trademark sings of good independent cinema – the non-sequential time line, long scenes where little happens, interesting and in depth character development and without spelling everything out for the audience.The story revolves around a single event which is shown from the various perspectives of different characters, gradually revealing how it came about and the consequences of the event. What makes this work so well is that as the audience starts to care about the characters you just can’t see any way of them resolving it.

The characters themselves are very well developed by slowly revealing different sides to them but in such a way that you don’t feel cheated in that ‘if I had known that earlier it would have made more sense’ that you sometimes get in movies. The ‘thriller’ or ‘who done it’ element is taken up with the ‘when are they going to get caught’ or ‘there is no way of resolving this’ but that is all in the background as the relationships between the characters slowly break apart.

The only thing I thought let down this movie was the underdeveloped female characters. The only strong female was well played but drastically underwritten IMHO. The end was also a slight cliche but pulled off by fantastic acting. What said it all in the end was that the audience left the cinema in almost total subdued silence, not I think, because of shock or disappointment but because there was just so much to think about.  Also, partly because it was the GFT and not Cineworld where you can’t get out of the cinema because everyone immediately goes into shuffle-very-slowly-while-checking-phone mode.

A fantastic film – with great central performances from Albert Finney, Hoffman and Ethan Hawke. Well worth catching!

Also, if you do want some of the plot a brief outline is on Wikipedia.