Before the Devil Knows Youre Dead

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -4

Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei. Crime drama. Written by Kelly Masterson. Directed by Sidney Lumet.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Two financially strapped brothers plan to rob their parents jewelry store. But things go wrong, spiraling their lives, and their familys, down a path of destruction.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Brilliant filmmaking from the aging but still formidable auteur Sidney Lumet, and brought to life by an equally impressive cast, this nonlinear film is simply engrossing, a real nail-biter. That said, it is replete with foul and profane language, and a dysfunctional family that would make Hamlets brood look like the Waltons. Its excessive, which seems to be needed nowadays in order to grab moviegoers who have seen every disgusting and desensitizing image Hollywood can recreate. Its interesting to me that the film industry, which is so antiwar, has no qualms about making film after film that assault the psyche of man.

Now, I want to be careful how I address the subject of the opening scene, which cant be described as anything but pornographic. Ms. Tomei is about as beautiful as a human can get. Her figure is like a work of art. Philip Seymour Hoffman, on the other hand, is, well, hes got cool hair and hes one of the best actors ever, but even if I was as gay as that purple Teletubby, I would still cringe at seeing Mr. Hoffman in the midst of copulation. Im not trying to be cruel. Not everyone can have the Adonis-like figure I possess. (That be a joke.) Im sure the filmmaker would say the scene was necessary in order to develop a contributing subplot, but at some point makers of movies lost the ability to stimulate our imaginations, preferring to reveal all.

DVD Alternative: The Asphalt Jungle. Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe and a scene-stealing newcomer, Marilyn Monroe, star in this gripping tale of a robbery that slowly falls apart. John Huston co-wrote and directed this taut crime caper thats as much a character study as a suspense adventure. Now, this is an old film, one in black and white. I realize thats a turn off for many modern movie watchers. But, and I cant emphasize this enough, The Asphalt Jungle is not only the granddad of caper adventures, it remains one of the best of the crime genre. Made during a time when actors werent allowed to curse God on film or use the f-word to portray frustration, screenwriters John Huston and Ben Maddow told their character-driven tale with precision, giving the story insight and meaning.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several crude sexual terms.

Obscene Language: The entire script is peppered with objectionable language. Literally every character except the murdered woman gets to utter either obscene or profane language. At least 60 uses of the f-word, alone.

Profanity: Around 20 profane uses of Gods name or Christs. Whats it say about entertainers who profane the Creators name in order to entertain you?

Violence: Several killings, including a parent smothering his own child. Blood: Blood spurts everywhere when people are gunned down.

Sex: A graphic reenactment of the sexual act. At least I think its a reenactment. Looked pretty real to me.

Nudity: Ms. Tomei and Mr. Hoffman are seen nude in several scenes.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several conversations revolve around the sex act.

Drugs: Drinking, smoking, and drug use. Mr. Hoffmans character is a heroine addict. It doesnt glorify drug use. Its there to indicate unfeeling, self-destructive characters.

Other: Several family quarrels, many arguments.

Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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