Movie review: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

Philip Seymour Hoffman was the draw for me. Otherwise, I am not sure I would have watched this movie or continued to watch it after I started it.

The movie plot is a less than savory one and the characters less than sympathetic. Andy comes up with a seemingly harmless scheme to get a large chunk of money and drags his brother Hank—his perennially broke brother—into the plot.

Rob their parents’ jewelry store. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. Hank brings an acquaintance into the plot who sets in motion a horrible series of events in the jewelry store.

While disturbing, the movie could have worked except for the plot device used. Rather than tell the story sequentially, or even starting with the climax and working backwards, the director uses flashbacks that are disruptive to the flow of the story. Seemingly assigned to different characters, the flashbacks seem to be from certain people’s perspectives. Only they aren’t. They are the same stories repeated from different camera angles.

Since the movie started with the botched robbery, I wasn’t sure how the movie was going to end. By the time it did, I didn’t care. I was glad the movie was over. Hoffman gave a good performance though there was something eerie about seeing him frequent a heroin safe house.

Save yourself the trouble of seeing this movie. For a much better movie and a stellar Hoffman performance, try his last movie: A Most Wanted Man.


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