When the Devil You Know Turns Out to be Family

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Hawke and Hoffman in 'Devil' i

Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman play dissimilar brothers, desperately in debt in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Will Hart/Thinkfilm hide caption

itoggle caption Will Hart/Thinkfilm
Hawke and Hoffman in 'Devil'

Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman play dissimilar brothers, desperately in debt in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

Will Hart/Thinkfilm

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, a robbery thriller directed by Sidney Lumet, is perfectly weighted and expertly crafted.

It's a crime-and-punishment story starring Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman as brothers who are desperately in debt; when Hoffman's character talks Hawke's into a scheme to alleviate the cash crunch, events go from very bad to even worse — to as grotesquely awful as possible.

Under Lumet's sympathetic direction, the brothers' anguish gets into the viewer's bloodstream, and the movie transcends melodrama.

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