Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Rated R 116 minutes 2008

I prefer Sidney Lumet's previous feature, the neglected Find Me Guilty. But this ambitious and well-directed crime thriller, with an intricate flashback structure redolent of Reservoir Dogs, gives Philip Seymour Hoffman a fascinatingly ambiguous character (a passive-aggressive corporate executive and drug addict) to work with, and he does wonders with the part. Marisa Tomei's character, on the other hand, the executive's wife and the lover of his softer loser brother (Ethan Hawke), is strictly standard-issue. Even though it's scripted by a woman (Kelly Masterson), this tale of buried family resentments rising to the surface as the brothers plot to rob their parents' jewelry store is concerned only with the guys, and it's marred by an uncharacteristically mannered performance by Albert Finney as the father (123 min., 2007).

Film Credits

Director: Sidney Lumet

Producer: Michael Cerenzie, Brian Linse, Paul Parmar, William S. Gilmore, David Bergstein, Jane Barclay, Hannah Leader, Belle Avery, Jeff Melnick, J.J. Hoffman, Eli Klein and Sam Zaharis

Cast: Philip Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris, Brian O'Byrne, Amy Ryan and Michael Shannon

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