Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (DVD)

If any modern genre has had its day then surely the modern "heist-gone-wrong" movie is it. From blockbusters to indie kids we’ve seen it all, and Before The Devil Knows You're Dead joins the list ... and promptly jumps to the head of the class as one of the best.

There’s nothing particularly new or inventive in this film, but in covering old ground it shows its class throughout. The lead actors are superb, the writing and in particular Hoffman’s sparkling dialogue is a joy and the direction is tight and to the point. The initially unsettling structure of flashbacks intertwining chronologically with the present time story slowly settles and, in the end, adds to, what is essentially a heist movie dealing with the build up and bloody aftermath.

The fragmented sibling relationship between Hoffman and Hawke is superbly told, and as well as employing flashbacks the film uses shifting perspectives to keep the twists coming. As repulsive as Hoffman’s character is on first viewing, his emotions are brought wonderfully to life by the actor. It’s Hawke who surprises most by turning in a polished and restrained performance, on a par with anything he has done before. You might not get to see it before the devil does, but be sure to check it out before the twists are given away.


Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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