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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD (2007)

Veteran megger Sidney Lumet can’t get a break. After decades of flops on pics good & bad (okay, mostly bad), he does his best work in years only to see a similarly-themed pic nab the good reviews & Box-Office right before his opens. DEVIL is hardly a fresh idea, two estranged brothers come together to rob the family store and find that the best laid plans . . . , well you know. The echoes of Mamet & Shepard and the shifting narrative time-line are distractingly clever, but Lumet attacks the myriad twists, tropes & violence with relish and at long last manages to properly cast an entire movie. (No small thing from a mug who once had Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman & Matthew Broderick star as Grandpa, Dad & Son.) As the ‘successful’ son, Philip Seymour Hoffman does a sort of scary Beau Bridges thing that plays beautifully while Ethan Hawke, with a few crucial pounds back on his frame, is better than he’s been in years as the sad-sack kid brother. Lumet takes the last act awfully seriously, but the tragic events play out with a brio that’s anything but a downer. It’s all tremendously alive. And so is Lumet after all these years.

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