2 hours, 3 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for a scene of strong graphic sexuality, nudity, violence, drug use and language.
DVD Features: The making of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - featuring interviews with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and Sidney Lumet; Filmmaker and cast commentary with 5-time Academy Award nominee and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Sidney Lumet and actors Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman; Theatrical trailer.
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Andy
Ethan Hawke ... Hank
Albert Finney ... Charles
Marisa Tomei ... Gina
Rosemary Harris ... Nanette
Aleksa Palladino ... Chris
Michael Shannon ... Dex
Amy Ryan ... Martha
Brian F. O'Byrne ... Bobby
With an IRS audit looming, overextended broker Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman "Capote") is sorely pressured, having siphoned off considerable sums to support a lifestyle beyond his means, to keep his wife (Marisa Tomei "My Cousin Vinny") happy, and for his fancy, high-end dealer who supplies and injects his drugs. Since he's strapped for money and knows his brother always is, as well, Andy proposes a harmless robbery to Hank (Ethan Hawke "Before Sunrise"), at first hiding the fact that the intended target is their parents’ suburban jewelry shop. The insurance policy will make the whole thing a theoretically victimless crime.
Hank is always in a bind for money. He's never been successful at anything he does, and he's three months behind in child support and constantly badgered by his spiteful exwife (Amy Ryan "War of the Worlds"). He's now even called "a loser" by his adored daughter, although he's been taking the time to have a weekly tryst with his big brother's wife (Tomei), whom he professes to love and wants to marry. Bullied against the wall, cajoled and baited by a two-thousand-dollar cash advance from his brother, Hank agrees to the robbery plan, but, terrified, he recruits barman Bobby Lasorda (Brian F. O'Byrne "Million Dollar Baby") into doing the actual stick-up while he waits outside, disguised, in a rented car. But, as fate would have it, the clerk who usually opens the jewelry store in the morning, doesn't show up, and the feisty woman dropped off by their father Charles (Albert Finney "Big Fish") on his way to a DMV test is Hank’s mother (Rosemary Harris "Spider-Man"). As you might expect, everything goes wholly awry, with the gunman taking four shots in the chest while two bullets hit mom.
Cutting back and forth between the days before, during and after the robbery, we are little by little led by director Sidney Lumet ("Dog Day Afternoon"), through the details as they grimly pile up, one after the other. As events spin out of control, the feckless Hank is blackmailed by the strong-arm brother (Michael Shannon "The Woodsman") of Bobby’s girlfriend (Aleksa Palladino "Mona Lisa Smile"). Hank slowly falls apart, particularly when an innocent car-rental manager proves elusive.
But if Hank is not admirable, it is the childhood-scarred Andy who is the real monster, losing whatever small soul he possesses in a bloody sequence to extricate himself and his brother which leads to even further horror as suspicious Charles begins following his older son in his oversized sedan, deciding to become a dispenser of justice, but instead becomes a danger to everyone around.
The tailspin into a visceral finale could have been ludicrous if these performances weren't so well balanced between the believable and the grotesque. Hoffman's blazing work infests every scene, but not far behind are Hawke's brilliantly weak baby brother, Finney's brooding father and Tomei's sensuous,reckless wife/lover. The members of this corroded American family don't want to hear anything resembling truth, but they still yearn for that familial closeness, if only for the promise of some sort of comfort. It's all eerily layered with gripping tension and genuine suspense by 83 year-old director Sidney Lumet in one of his best films in many years.