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Movie Review: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Alternate Title: An American Tragedy

Story: May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead is an old Irish toast - and this movie is two hours of heavenly cinema. It was directed by 83 year old Sidney Lumet. He still has what it takes to make a classic film. Aided by a terrific screenplay by first timer Kelly Masterson one simply has to just sit back and watch what fine cinema is all about.

Brothers Hank and Andy are desperate for money. They plan the perfect 'victimless' robbery of their parents' Mom and Pop jewelry store. Everything goes wrong and the balance of the film is delicious cinematic crime and punishment. The storytelling is presented in a non-linear fashion focusing on different characters' points of view. I was riveted from the opening scene to the closing credits.

The action, the mystery, the family dynamic, dysfunction, infidelity and the issues that envelop brothers, fathers and sons are all heady topics with which everyone can relate.

Run, don't walk to your local cinema to check out this fabulous film.

Acting:: Philip Seymour Hoffman is a brilliant actor.He mesmerizes the audience with his award winning performances and this role is no exception. Ethan Hawke, can be a lightweight, but in this film, he surely holds his own. Albert Finney as the father does not have a big role but he is fine in the role that was handed to him. Marisa Tomei is terrific as the woebegone wife. The ensemble cast is noteworthy including Rosemary Harris, Brian F. O'Byrne and Leonardo Cimino.

Predilection: None.

Critters: None.

Food: Pizza

Sex Spectrum: The opening shot is of a naked Hoffmann and Tomei having sex. Yes, you can read that line again, if you like.

Blatant Product Placement: The jewelry store is in a strip mall and you can see Foot Locker and the Gap.

Opening Titles: The Irish toast in written in white type over a black background - after the aforementioned sex scene.

Visual Art: The attention to detail in the economic strata of the family is terrific.

Theater Audience: Crowded for a mid-week, mid-day showing.

Weather: The weather was perfect for a heist.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: There is some violence that might make some squirm.

Drift Factor: I did not drift even for a nanosecond.

Predictability Level: I was not sure what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Absolutely

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen, for sure. For some of Lumet's other great films, you can rent: Q & A , Running on Empty, Garbo Talks, The Verdict, Deathtrap, Prince of the City, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Murder on the Orient Express, Serpico, The Anderson Tapes, Fail-Safe, The Pawnbroker, Long Day's Journey Into Night

Length: A smidgeon over two hours.