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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
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A story ripped from the headlines, but as old as storytelling itself
March 22nd, 2010 [12:27:16]
 9/10

eddie499: I finally had a chance to see this criminally unknown masterpiece from the great Sydney Lumet and I can't begin to say enough about it. What makes this film great is not only excellent direction, performances from an incredible ensemble cast, led by the inimitable Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke (in his best performance in the past 10 years), and a spectacular Albert Finney, but the timeless universality of the themes portrayed. On one hand you have a modern crime story rife with desperation at the dawn of one of the most economically turbulent times in American history, where the characters succumb to their own vices and dire circumstances. On the other hand, this is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, telling a story of greed, fear and regret that is as old as mankind itself; a crime of hubris on par with anything from MacBeth or Othello, a catastrophic mishap in the commission of the crime, familial betrayal, and a relentless pursuit of revenge. The blending of those two themes is what makes Before the Devil Knows Youíre Dead a truly great film. As a whole, none of the characters are particularly likable and as a viewer, I could never really be sympathetic with any of their causes, but I was nonetheless riveted by their stories as each characterís true nature was revealed. It is the tragic flaws of each character that makes the viewer want to follow the story full circle.
I could go on and on about the technical aspects and the mise en scene of the film, but those arenít the reasons to watch. This is a film about human nature at its lowest; characters are everything here.
See this as soon as you can. You will not regret it.


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