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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

3.9 out of 5 stars 240 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Master filmmaker Sidney Lumet directs this absorbing suspense thriller about a family facing the worst enemy of all itself. Oscar®-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Andy, an overextended broker who lures his younger brother, Hank (Ethan Hawke) into a larcenous scheme: the pair will rob a suburban mom-and-pop jewelry store that appears to be the quintessential easy target. The problem is, the store owners are Andy and Hank s actual mom and pop and, when the seemingly perfect crime goes awry, the damage lands right at their doorstep. Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei plays Andy s trophy wife, who is having a clandestine affair with Hank. The stellar cast also includes Albert Finney as the family patriarch who pursues justice at all costs, completely unaware that the culprits he is hunting are his own sons. A classy, classic heist-gone-wrong drama in the tradition of The Killing and Lumet s own The Anderson Tapes, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOW YOU RE DEAD is smart enough to know that we often have the most to fear from those who are near and dear.


Sidney Lumet s Before the Devil Knows You re Dead is an exceptionally dark story about a crime gone wrong and the complicated reasons behind it. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are outstanding as brothers whose mutual love-hate relationship subtly colors their agreement to rob their own parents jewelry store, and more explicitly affects the anxious aftermath of their villainy when their mother (Rosemary Harris) ends up shot. Hoffman s steely, emotionally locked-up Andy, despite pulling down six figures as a corporate executive, is supporting an expensive drug habit while trying to leave the country with his depressed wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei). Hank (Hawke), a whipped dog of low intelligence, owes back alimony and child support to his ex-spouse. Both men need money and agree to rip off their parents' business, a decision that goes awry and puts both men in various kinds of jeopardy while their mother remains comatose and their father (Albert Finney) lurches along trying to make sense of anything. Writer Kelly Masterson's screenplay employs a perhaps now-overly-familiar time-shifting tactic, jumping around the chronology of the story's events and replaying scenes from different vantage points. The effect is a little tedious but successfully deconstructs the film's drama in a way that shows how such terrible events are directly linked to family dysfunction, old wounds between parent and child, between siblings, that fester into full-blown tragedy. Eighy-three-year-old director Lumet (Serpico) employs bleached colors and scenes of blunt sexuality and violence, adding to the moral rudderlessness and banality of this airless world. If Devil feels a little reductive and insistently grim, it is also a generally persuasive work by an old master. --Tom Keogh --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, Rosemary Harris, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: ThinkFilm
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2008
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00112S8RS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,278 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
At the age of 83, director Sidney Lumet proves he still has plenty of juice. And once again, Philip Seymour Hoffman proves he is one of the finest American actors working today. This powerful one-two punch nails this movie into your head; and that's further guaranteed by, a) great acting by the rest of the cast, including Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and, in a bravura performance, Albert Finney, and b) a shockingly dark portrait of a family so dysfunctional it almost makes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre folks look tame. Well, almost.

Two brothers, played by Hawke and Hoffman, work in the same real estate company, but are hugely different. Hoffman's the bigshot; Hawke's not. Hawke's divorced; Hoffman's married to Tomei and the opening graphic scene shows just how married the two of them are. Hoffman's got problems and so does Hawke, but they're different problems, although both have their root in money.

Money drives this sucker and leads to greed, murder, despair, fear, and retribution. This is one of the darkest of noir tales in a long while; it's a noir family drama that's so unrelenting your chin drops further and further as the movie progresses and by the whopper of a tragic ending, it's definitely on the sidewalk.

But this is what makes it so compelling. It's astonishingly powerful; fundamentally, you can't believe how things can spiral so much out of control the way they do in this movie, but they do, they definitely do.

Hawke and Hoffman both needing money leads to a plan to get said money, and, of course--this being a noir film at its blackest heart--to get it completely illegally. Watch this movie to see how noir is REALLY done today, in the 21st century.
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Format: DVD
The full title of this film is 'May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead', a rewording of the old 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.' First time screenwriter Kelly Masterson (with some modifications by director Sidney Lumet) has concocted a melodrama that explores just how fragmented a family can become when external forces drive the members to unthinkable extremes. In this film the viewer is allowed to witness the gradual but nearly complete implosion of a family by a much used but, here, very sensible manipulation of the flashback/flash forward technique of storytelling. By repeatedly offering the differing vantages of each of the characters about the central incidents that drive this rather harrowing tale, we see all the motivations of the players in this case of a robbery gone very wrong.

Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a wealthy executive, married to an emotionally needy Gina (Marisa Tomei), and addicted to an expensive drug habit. His life is beginning to crumble and he needs money. Andy's ne're-do-well younger brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) is a life in ruins - he is divorced from his shrewish wife Martha (Amy Ryan), is behind in alimony and child support, and has borrowed all he can from his friends, and he needs money. Andy proposes a low-key robbery of a small mall mom-and-pop jewelry store that promises safe, quick cash for both. The glitch is that the jewelry story belongs to the men's parents - Charles (Albert Finney) and Nanette (Rosemary Harris).
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Format: DVD
"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is one of the best movies to come out of 2007. It's involving, thrilling and even at times terrifying to see how normal everyday people can do terrible and unimaginable things. It's also a film that shows you that nothing is ever simple and even what seems to be the most simple or "victimless" crime can lead to devastating consequences that can shatter lives.

"Victimless." That's exactly the term Andy uses when he explains to his brother how they can get some easy cash. Both are in desperate need of money. Andy says that there is a solution to all of their problems, and that is to hit a mom-and-pop jewelery store that they both know very well. No guns will be used. No cops will be called. And most importantly, nobody will get hurt. How can it go wrong? Very wrong, that's how. Wrong as in that people do get hurt and that the aftermath can lead to the destruction of an already damaged family in the gripping melodrama that goes to show you just how evil the world can be sometimes.

Not a moment went by where I didn't find myself hooked. Not a minute went by where I could predict what was going to happen next. That's a real treat when you are in the presence of a confident film that won't resort to the usual cliches or predictable twists and turns. The writing and performances are outstanding. Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives one of his best and darkest performances as a man who can be so manipulative and cold, yet you sense that there is a longing for love and acceptance that he has inside of him that wasn't shown to him when he was younger. Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and Albert Finney are also terrific and deserve high praises.
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