Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead was directed by the well aged Sidney Lumet (Born in 1924) and stars Ethan Hawke, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney. The story is a non-linear look forward and backwards and all angles at a jewelry store robbery gone wrong and the brothers involved. Actually it is more than that being an exploration of sibling relationships, relationships between a father and his sons, as well as the intimacy of lovers losing their spark and each seeking out other means of pleasure via an affair or drugs.
Visually the film is nice, and all of the men who have seen this know exactly what I am talking about. This film opens doggy-style and I mean it literally and thought Lumet must have had a career in making films where everybody just lays around naked and talks. Marisa Tomei is naked for a lot of her performance and looks stunning; she should be thanking the filmmakers.
The acting is top caliber, naturally with Hawke and Hoffman. However, Albert Finney needs to learn to shut his mouth, he’s got that drooping jaw old person thing going on and he is overall uninteresting. Tomei plays her role quite cute, but it is her topless scenes that will be remembered; sitting on the edge of the bed next to a butt naked Ethan Hawke, topless and working to get her shoe on: gorgeous shot if you keep your eyes off of Hawke. I of course mean the color scheme and every thing.
The story is where the film failed me. It is told in a repeating itself and revealing new information from a different angle on the same scene sort of way and feels like it is going to build up to some sort of twist. Instead it is actually going about the slow process of fizzling out. The actors begin leaving their clothing on and reciting lines and dialog that feel like they’ve been said a million times before. There really wasn’t any way to connect with any of the characters unless you fit into the cliché Hollywood formula for a boy who never felt loved by daddy. Ultimately the film was a disappointment to me and the ending was dull. The film is also fairly depressing after a while in vibe, don’t expect to be in a good mood afterwards.
Lumet has not lost his touch as a director and there are some amazing looking scenes, the acting is fine, but the story and then the film overall isn’t something to be whoo-hooing about. In the end I was left with: what was the point in even making this movie? Not exactly of grand entertainment value to me.