Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Movie review by Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 18+

Mature heist film full of violence, explicit sex.

R 2007 117 minutes

Parents say

age 18+

Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 17+

Based on 2 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 18+

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead – Invites Slow Thinkers

There’s a film making device that not even the sometimes overrated Kubrick could make work (IE; check out his heist movie: ‘The Killing’) It’s the tired old flashback device of repeating the same scene over from several viewpoints, even when it’s totally pointless (as it is here). First-time writer Kelly Masterson and veteran director Sidney Lumet must have felt everyone will have forgotten that padded-out earlier old flick, thinking they could get away with ‘borrowing’ the idea for their dreary heist movie. This one is a ‘dozy’ and should please those who live their lives thinking the best time of year is the bleak mid-winter - during a power failure and severe food shortage. Writer and director must have been so aware of their over-stretched plot, that they may have thought (wrongly) by starting their movie with a sensationalised, voyeuristic porno type shot, featuring two of their stars rear-end copulating - will shock jaded viewers into thinking it exciting and modern. Trouble is, the whole thing is sleazily set up and ultimately unappealing. Pity the poor 40ish Marisa Tomei (even though she looks very good) is shown in 80% of her scenes more than half naked – talk about used and abused. Lumet would have been better to have retired before he was reduced to ending his career at this merge point. A strong hard-working cast delivers their distraught lines with conviction - while given situations that just about defies any close examination by intelligent audiences. The pathetic characters that inhabit this story are just too difficult to feel anything for. I’m not going to give away any plot details here but it’s this depressingly overstated type of movie-making that appeals to festival in-crowds and certain critics. It’s also a reminder, for those who have forgotten what great classic writing used to do with genuine human tragedy. Here, it’s shredded and reduced to pathetic characters and ridiculously laboured situations - designed to manipulate the audience into thinking it way far better than it is (some will – many won't)
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