by Xavier Toby in New Film on Saturday 15 March 2008

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, the latest film from director Sidney Lumet, is a cautionary tale that takes a seemingly victimless crime then painstakingly analyses the disastrous consequences. As an illustration of how people can be easily driven by the tedium and pressure of everyday working life to extreme acts, it succeeds. Clever filmic techniques such as repeating the same situation from different viewpoints provide new information in an innovative way, but the overuse of this technique becomes tedious. The characters, while well acted, have few redeeming qualities, only the father played by Albert Finney being a man of any morale fibre. They are disgusting humans and their previous misdemeanours all come to curse them in a variety of ways. The film is devoid of humour or hope and is one of the darkest and most depressing I have ever seen, but maybe that’s the point. Most people spend their lives tolerating situations they hate and while at times excruciating, it was also uplifting. It was like watching a horrific, slow motion car crash, but did show how easily society turns people into lifeless, uninspired drones and reminded me to never become one of them.