Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

  • Review Date: March 3, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Mature heist film full of violence, explicit sex.
  • Review Date: March 3, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters include thieves, addicts, bullies, and cheaters. Both brothers are insecure, competitive, and violent; their father is distant and cruel; wives are vindictive and resentful. A character's presumed homosexuality is equated with deviance.

Violence

Brutal violence during the central robbery, when a masked thief and the elderly jewelry store owner face off, shooting each other repeatedly (lots of blood, crawling on the ground). Justin, an upscale drug dealer, regularly answers the door with his gun in hand. After she's shot, an old woman appears in a hospital room with tubes and monitors; ultimately, a decision must be made about keeping her on life support. A widower crashes his car into a police cruiser in despair. Father slaps son. Lots of shooting and fighting near the end (panicky gunfire, yelling, blood on walls and bodies).

Sex

Repeated sex scenes showing naked breasts, buttocks, and sexual activity. First scene takes place in a mirrored hotel room and shows explicit sex from various angles. Other scenes show an adulterous couple (a man with his brother's wife) and reveal her breasts and his bottom. A couple of scenes show tongue-kissing. Andy undresses (not explicit).

Language

Language includes frequent uses of "f--k" and "s--t" (a couple with "bull"), and far fewer instances of "ass" (one with "hole"), "hell," "goddamn," and derisive slang ("faggoty" and "prick").

Consumerism

Brief visual or verbal references to Dell laptop, Tiffany's jewelry.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several scenes take place in bars, where characters drink beer and liquor. Frequent cigarette smoking. Some marijuana smoking and cocaine snorting. In a business/potentially kinky sex arrangement, Andy pays a young man to inject him with heroin a couple of times (needles, powder, and spoon visible). Hank appears drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this intense, mature heist film about two adult brothers who conspire to rob their parents -- no one is supposed to get hurt, but things go very awry -- definitely isn't for kids. It's full of loud, bloody, harrowing violence (including a robber exchanging gunfire with an elderly woman) and some pretty explicit sex scenes (thrusting, panting, naked bottoms, visible breasts/nipples). Several scenes show drinking and explicit drug use (cocaine, marijuana, heroin), and there's adultery, cigarette smoking, and plenty of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and more).

Parents say

Not yet rated
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Kids say

What's the story?

In BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD, greedy Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) convinces his younger, more earnest, and less clever brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) to carry out a robbery at their parents' jewelry store. The crime is meant to be victimless, but it goes very badly, leaving a masked accomplice dead, Andy and Hank's mother Nanette (Rosemary Harris) in a coma, and Hank in a complete panic. The rest of the film provides sketchy, somewhat predictable context for each brother: While Andy fears losing his wife, Hank is desperately behind on child. At the same time, they must put on a show for their distraught father, Charles (Albert Finney), while their mother lies dying in the hospital. As each brother reveals his fears and disappointments, he also discovers that his life is too far gone to recover. Addicted to cocaine and heroin, Andy can't find a dark enough hole in which to disappear. And Hank, making one bad decision after another, discovers that he'll never be as rich -- or as miserable -- as his brother.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

At its best, Sidney Lumet's latest movie reflects this torment and rage in its complex structure and excellent performances; as the story cuts back and forth in time, viewers come to see motives and consequences gradually, piecing characters together as they come to understand themselves. But at its worst, the movie lapses into melodramatic formula, with men clashing and competing while women suffer.

Though the brothers' gnarly relationship creates a compelling puzzle, the women around them tend to fall by the wayside, serving more as evidence of the men's failures than as characters with their own lives -- or deaths. Even Nanette's passing becomes an occasion for the boys to argue and flail about. As reckless and forlorn as the brothers and their father may be, you can only imagine how much worse it is for the women who live with them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the characters' bad/strained family relationships. Why do the brothers resent their father? How do they act out with each other? What role does Gina fulfill for both of the brothers? Do you think relationships like these are realistic? Is it more "entertaining" to see a movie about dysfunctional characters or functional ones? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 26, 2007
DVD release date:April 14, 2008
Cast:Albert Finney, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director:Sidney Lumet
Studio:THINKFilm
Genre:Drama
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:a scene of strong graphic sexuality, nudity, violence, drug use and language.

This review of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKrozo April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Suspenseful Thriller of a Dysfunctional Family

This movie is inappropriate for almost everyone under the age of 17 so I gave this movie and "off" instead of a "pause." This movie is also not for people with weak constitutions because this movie contains extreme family dysfunction throughout the course of the film. Just to get this out of the way, this movie does not have an "uplifting" ending that most viewers would want. This movie is for people who want to watch a movie with character depth, dark but amazing story, and intense thrills. In this case, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead hits the mark masterfully.
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 October 28, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

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Rated R: Gory Violence, Graphic Sex, Strong Language, and Strong Drug Use
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bykmattson April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

differing opinion

thanks!

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