Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

I’ve come across quite a few of these plots lately, ones where everything just goes wrong and then even worse, just as it is most likely to happen in real life. In reality, beyond a point things just don’t get OK; there are no miraculous twists in our lives that ensure happy endings. You reap what you sow, and if you sowed something bad, you’re bound to end up reaping something nasty. Karma, dude.

Sidney Lumet loves hold-ups. No complaints, the guy made the greatest hold-up movie ever, and he’s come back to do another killer one at the ripe age of 83. I doubt if I would even read at that age, and this guy makes something like this. Wow!

BTDKYD is about 2 brothers, Andy(Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank(Ethan Hawke) who get together to do a robbery, a simple plan that goes real sour. The plot isn’t spectacular, but the execution definitely is. Lumet narrates this movie in stops and starts, with small flashbacks from each character’s POV, giving it layers of detail, and hence a lot of depth. But he doesn’t stop here. I guess if you’ve been making movies as long as Lumet, you have such a command over the medium that you can toy with it and use it with supreme effectiveness. While the viewer gets a background on what each character is going through and what drives them to do what they do, there are still a lot of these layers that Lumet leaves to be added on later. We keep discovering these new details in the overall picture as the movie progresses, getting to further understand the dynamics between these people and their relationships, and its these details that drive the plot to its climax, making this a unique and exhilarating cinematic experience.

This movie is not easy to watch, with the range of hard emotions its characters go through- weakness, need, guilt, remorse, helplessness, and so on. The hardest part is you end up knowing the characters so well, that none of them are just plain ‘bad’ to you. All you can do is sympathize with them, and wish they could somehow escape the predicament that they’re so inexplicably caught in. And that, of course, cannot happen.

Well, one of the best movies of the year.

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