Before The Devil Knows You're Dead


Powered by demonic energy, Sidney Lumet’s family crime thriller has all the agonising horror of Greek tragedy. Kelly Masterson’s script keeps opening trapdoors under your feet and with each sickening drop, shock and twist, the movie gets better and better. Sex and violence light the fuse, as two cash-strapped brothers – real-estate sleaze Philip Seymour Hoffman and hapless divorced dad Ethan Hawke – plot to rob their parents’ jewellery store. Horrifically bungled, it spirals them into an abyss of greed, sin and desperation. Performances are off the chart: Hoffman is an astonishing powder-keg of repressed rage, Hawke a pitiable loser with a rubber backbone and Albert Finney stunning as their grief-mangled father. Three years after his Lifetime Achievement Oscar, 84- year-old Lumet directs with the style and ferocity of a 21st-century tyro. But where’s his R1 commentary?


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