A Mile Up in Heaven

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - (2007)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke,

Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney

Sidney Lumet's crime drama is always on the verge of going somewhere before a flash back or flash forward interrupts. The effect of this is a subtle distraction that kept me ignorant of the film's heavy substance up until the end. With that said, the idea of knocking off your own parents' jewelry store to cure your dire straits should weigh impressionably enough but Lumet manages to downplay it for me. Its like listening to a song that has no verses just a repeating chorus and then, all of a sudden a grippingly epic bridge, after which the song ends.

The characters are each in good hands as the cast delivers, poignantly, a dark story about loyalty and desperation. I was a bit over anxious to see Albert Finney, who's full entrance is a bit delayed. This was not a problem since Philip Seymour Hoffman as a cocky jerk is always great to watch.

I admit I chuckled a few times, because I remember Sidney Lumet being described as an actor's director, not so much indulging in camera techniques and special effects. This is true, he doesn't but Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is the closest I've seen to a contradiction of that notion. Maybe it was accidental but there were a lot of nicely, seemingly, prepared camera shots. And not mentioning anything of the flashbacks/flashforwards, I was simply surprised that there was a soundtrack. Its pretty cool to see one of your favorite directors taking a fresh take on their craft and still pull through effectively.

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