Before the Devil Knows you’re Dead – two thumbs up

Susan and I saw Before the Devil Knows you’re Dead this weekend, and we both liked it to differing degrees. Susan didn’t care so much for the open ended conclusion, wereas I thought it was pretty great – otherwise we both enjoyed it. The story concerns two brothers with cashflow problems who decide to pull off a robbery and the chaos that follows as things go wrong. Central parts of the story are presented as out of sequence vignettes, jumping around in the timeline of events, and one particular vignette may not even be ‘real,’ but I’ll skip the spoilers so as not to ruin it in case anyone reading this wants to see it. This makes understanding the story and identifying the characters challenging at times but it kept us engaged trying to puzzle out what was going on and who was who. The acting is uneven – Philip Seymour Hoffman is great in one of the leads, as is a very aged Albert Finney, but I was less fond of Ethan Hawke’s manic younger brother (the scenes in the car rental place in particular I thought were pretty bad) and have mixed feelings about Marisa Tomei’s character. All credit to her for spending half the movie unclothed, but several scenes, especially when she leaves Hoffman’s character, just came across as forced. On the plus side, she looks great 😉

This is a slow moving drama, so it’s not for everyone, especially not for a lot of my regular readers, but if you’re in the mood for a well crafted, thought provoking, reasonably well acted crime drama, it’s definitely worth checking out.

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