Friday, January 11, 2008
Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet)
This film seems to split everyone's opinion. There is a group who hate it, a pretty big group who think that it's "good", and a very small group who consider it to be one of the best films from last year. I now belong to the small group who praises the film.
I can see why people are so mixed towards the film. Lumet seems to have crafted a film which sets out to challenge its audience with its characters, editing, and story. Even looking back on the film I don't think there is one thing in the film that people are supposed to "like" and "cheer for". If anything, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead is one of the darkest films that I have seen in recent memory. It's because of this reason that I loved the film.
I loved the aspect of creating characters which you just loathe but at the same time can feel sympathy for and then just seeing them self destruct for the next 2 hours. While watching the film I was reminded of Mike Nichol's Closer and how he, at least to me to me, tried to go for the same thing but I was instead left with characters which I just loathed. That's not the case here. Maybe its because of the whole heist angle or maybe its because these characters actually feeling fleshed out but I absolutely loved how at times I didn't know if I wanted these characters to succeed in their heist plan or see them get screwed over. I loved having mixed feeling like these during some scenes.
I also feel that Lumet has crafted one of the most intense films in awhile. the intensity that this film reaches at times was a bit too much for me, but I figure that that's a good sign that the film is doing what it set out to do. Few films have had that power over me and this is one of them.
I will say that the film wasn't perfect to me based on my first viewing. Even though I am going to give it 4 stars, I still had some small problems with the film. I would write out what those two problems are but they would spoil the film. I will say that I wasnt a fan of a certain scene dealing with Albert Finney and that I also wasn't a big fan of the way that the final shot was handled. It felt a little bit too easy and amateurish from such a veteran director. Apart from these flaws, I absolutely loved the film and consider it one of the best from last year.
I also might as well add that I think that Ethan Hawke and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are being overlooked for awards. In my opinion, they both give some of the best and most underrated performances from last year,