Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)


Year: 2007
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney, Michael Shannon, Amy Ryan, Rosemary Harris
Country: USA
Language: English (English subtitles)
Runtime: 01:56:36
Genres: Sibling Rivalry

Plot – Spoilers:
Two brothers, Andy and Hank are unhappy with their lives and want more out of what they’ve got – whether it is money or relationships. For Andy (Hoffman), a recent trip to Brazil and new found intimacy with wife Gina (Marisa Tomei) is the latest trigger for wanting to leave his current life as a fairly successful real-estate executive. He’s also been shady with some of the finances at the company and a looming audit doesn’t promise to be pleasant. Hank (Ethan Hawke) as the younger brother is quite the fuck up who’s recently divorced and has child support and his daughter’s private school tuition as financial worries. Gina wants more out of her marriage and life and is generally an unsatisfied person. Greed is the recurring issue with all the character whether it be for money, lust or happiness.

Andy hatches a scheme to rob their parents’ Mom & Pop jewellery store and convinces Hank to be the one to do the dirty deed. Hank being the quintessential fuck-up manages to mess it up and things go horribly wrong with their mother shot dead. How this tears the family apart is pretty much what the rest of the movie is all about.

Marisa Tomei comes out of this a quiet winner with her performance while Hoffman is brilliant as the resentful and domineering elder brother who uses a carrot and stick approach to bully Hank and make him do his bidding. Hank isn’t entirely a martyr – beneath the submissiveness when face to face with Andy, he’s getting his own back quietly by enjoying a sexual relationship with Gina.

The non-linear approach used in this film felt a bit jarring and disappointing especially since this is a Sidney Lumet film. That apart, quite an extraordinary movie with deserving performances.

Favorite Scenes:
Andy convinces Hank: The scene at Andy’s office where Andy foolishly grins and behaves as nothing more than a puppet at the end of a string.

The Final Murder: The Dad is seen mostly in tragic situations and so we don’t really get to judge him. There is a suggestion from Andy earlier that he is turning out just like his Dad and this scene provides enough evidence for that. In this dramatic final scene, there is a certain vindictiveness in Charles’ (the Dad) deep-rooted hatred for Andy while being more indulgent in the way he looks at Hank’s role in the tragedy.

2 thoughts on “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

  • October 14, 2019 at 4:01 am

    Fantastic movie. Not fucked up necessarily but very sad and dramatic. Overall highly recommended

    • November 1, 2019 at 7:23 am

      Totally agree. Not sure how it qualifies for the effed-up category but excellent nevertheless.


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