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BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD

Director: SIDNEY LUMET

U.S.A. • 2007 • COLOUR • DOLBY/DTS DIGITAL STEREO • 117 MIN


VETERAN DIRECTOR SIDNEY LUMET’S COMEBACK CRIME MOVIE IS A TENSE, SHOCKING THRILLER AND A FORENSIC STUDY OF MORAL COMPROMISE AND FRAGILE FAMILY TIES.
At the age of 80, Sidney Lumet received his ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Oscar for a fifty-year career that has embraced 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Network. Now, three years later, his razor-sharp mind and finely-honed directing skills have been applied to a multi-faceted screenplay by ex-theology student turned first-time screenwriter Kelly Masterson. Beating the young film-makers at their own game, Lumet and Masterson use a complex series of flashbacks to deconstruct the events leading up to a botched jewellery store robbery, then anatomise with scalpellike precision the tragic personal cost of its failure. Gunshots are fired, and their echoes reverberate long after the event. Sweaty, besuited payroll accountant Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his scruffy, unshaven brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) are chalk-and-cheese siblings who conspire to pay off their respective financial debts by staging a victimless crime. Andy wants to save his shaky marriage to the unhappy Gina (Marisa Tomei) and Hank owes his estranged, embittered wife three months’ worth of child support. But when this seemingly simple plan goes awry, their filial and familial relationships fracture and fall apart. Masterson’s screenplay has a priest’s gimlet eye for the subtleties of human folly, the actors brilliantly flesh out their characters’ foibles and failings, and Lumet’s controlled direction slowly ratchets up the tension. The equal of anything Lumet has made during his distinguished career, this is the work of a true cinematic master.—Nigel Floyd.

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