07 November 2007

As we were leaving the screening of Blade Runner a few weeks ago, Wailin and I noticed Ethan Hawke exiting the same theater. Ethan and I haven't spoken in a few years (okay, I interviewed him once about his performance in Hamlet), and I found myself unable to even remember what he'd done recently. (Training Day was the last of his movies to come to mind.)

Well, it turns out that he's been busy doing the best work of his career. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is just about the darkest, bleakest thriller in years, and among its many triumphs is that it casts Philip Seymour Hoffman and Hawke as brothers, of all things, and somehow makes it plausible: there are even moments when you can see a family resemblance. The plot is classic noir, with a deceptively simple premise—one that I wouldn't dream of revealing—that grows inexorably more complicated with every scene, and provides wonderful moments, like arias, for all of its leading actors.

The fact that this uncompromising, searingly entertaining movie was directed by 83-year-old Sidney Lumet only makes it more astonishing. A.O. Scott, as usual, gets it right: "The screen may be full of losers, liars, killers and thieves, but behind the camera is a mensch."

No comments: