1 December 2014 | bowmanblue
Enjoyed it more the second time around
I'm writing this review after my second viewing of 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.' I watched it on DVD when it first came out and, to be honest, it didn't leave that much of a lasting impression on me. If you asked me to describe it, I'd probably say something like, 'Oh, it was about a heist... or something.' To be fair, that is part of the film. I don't know what I started thinking about it years later, but I decided to give it another go. And I'm glad I did. Yes, it's about a heist. Although, the main ingredient in this film is about moral dilemmas. Two brothers (Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke), both with financial problems, decide to rob their parents' jewellery store as a way of making a fast buck (while not admitting that they're heavily in debt – and why).
Naturally, things don't go their way and both of them find themselves stuck in an ever deceasing spiral as more and more things get out of control. I won't go into the actual plot in too much detail, as anything I say will probably spoilt the film of you. However, what is nice is that you can see things from their points of view. Both men have problems. Yes, there may be easier (legal?!) ways of getting cash, but both have already gone too far to be able to turn around and utilise legitimate money-making means. Then, when things start to go wrong, everything happens logically. You'll feel for the two men (even if you don't always like them). Albert Finney is on the cast list and he does a good job, too. Although his part is decidedly smaller than his two on-screen sons, but what he does he does well.
'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' is a slow film. Maybe when I watched it before I was expecting some sort of 'action-orientated' gangster film where people are shooting each other and delivering a witty quip here and there. It's nothing like that. If you're looking for that sort of experience, look somewhere else. This film is quieter, subtle and sadder in tone. It's also nearly two hours long, but, despite being slow, that's not a bad thing.
If you're in the mood for 'thoughtful' over 'thrilling' give this one a go. I'm definitely going to watch it again – probably in a few years, but definitely.