Sunday, April 13, 2008

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Crime Saga Courtesy of Legendary Sidney Lumet Comes to DVD

Though well into his eighties, Sidney Lumet hasn’t lost his edge. Exhibit A is this masterfully-crafted, multi-layered murder mystery by the legendary director which earned the #3 spot on this critic’s Top Ten List for 2007.
At the point of departure of the tawdry tale of greed and betrayal, we find Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hanson) in the heat of passion with his high-maintenance trophy wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei). Despite pulling down a decent salary as a corporate executive in New York City, seems that he can’t make enough money to support both his heroin habit and keep her happy with her lavish lifestyle.
He comes up with a solution to the problem, namely, to rob a mom-and-pop jewelry store in a suburban mall. And he already has a place picked out, the one owned by his parents up in Westchester.
So, he enlists the assistance of his struggling brother in hatching what’s supposed to be the perfect crime. What Andy doesn’t know is that Hank (Ethan Hawke) is a shameless backstabber who has been secretly carrying on a passionate affair with Gina. Although initially hesitant, he agrees to enter the conspiracy because he’s several months behind in child support to his vindictive ex-wife (Amy Ryan) and doesn’t want to be denied visitation.
Needless to say, some of the best laid plans go awry, and the confederate (Brian O’Byrne) Hank hires to pull off the heist ends up mortally wounding their mother (Rosemary Harris) in an unanticipated exchange of gunfire. He dies at the scene, too, during the commission of the crime, which means it’s just a matter of time before circumstantial evidence starts to point at the grieving siblings.
With the cops, the triggerman’s widow (Aleska Palladino), a blackmailing mobster (Michael Shannon) and their own disconsolate father (Alberty Finney) all closing in, perhaps the best the despicable pair can hope for is summed up in the Irish saying from which the film takes its title: “May you be in heaven, half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.”
Vintage Lumet!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for nudity, violence, drug use, profanity and graphic sexuality.
Running time: 117 minutes
Studio: Image Entertainment
DVD Extras: Director and cast commentary, “The Making of” featurette, and a theatrical trailer.

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