Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

For me to really enjoy a movie, there MUST be someone I can root for. I've thought long and hard about this one and the only character I felt even a smidgeon of empathy for was as messed up and cruel as the others. What a tragedy!

First of all, you have a sterling cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote" and "The Savages"), Ethan Hawke ("Hamlet" and "Before Sunset"), Albert Finney ("Tom Jones" and "Erin Brockovich"), plus LOTS of Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny" and "In the Bedroom"). The movie is directed by Sidney Lumet ("Running on Empty" and "Find Me Guilty") so who am I to find fault?

The two main characters in the movie are totally screwed up. Both of these adult brothers have fouled their own nests, have money troubles, and seem to be amoral as well. Their parents, despite being in their sixties, are still very much in love and dote on each other. Evidently their childrearing left something to be desired: they both showed preference for their more handsome son (Hawke) and this has resulted in BOTH sons being damaged. Hoffman is ambitious, needy and has a bad drug habit. Hawke is indolent, divorced and broke. He also has a drinking problem.

Tomei spends as much time nude as clothed in this thing! It's hard to believe how long it has been since "My Cousin Vinny" but she looks GREAT! She is married to one brother and having an affair with the other.

The plot, which is discussed in all the reviews, consists of the sons' plans to rob their parents' well-insured jewelry store, the idea being it would be a victimless crime. Because each son acts within the constraints of his own personality, the thing goes horribly wrong.

I can't recommend it as entertainment, but this is a bloody, tragic and extremely well-acted movie.