Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (US-UK, 2007)

We know it won't turn out well

Neo-noir’s appear to have been thin on the ground recently, but this is a satisfactory addition to the most cynical of genres. It has an A-list cast, with both Hawke and Hoffmann (above) excelling but Albert Finney tops them with an old man’s grief, and fury, at… well, no spoilers.

Scriptwriter Kelly Masterson judiciously uses noir’s fragmented plot with numerous flashbacks and even starts with what could be the denouement. Unusually for a recent American film, the mainstream nation seems to have become more puritanical since the 1980s, there are explicit sex scenes. Not entirely convinced they are necessary though.

In terms of nihilism: this film is amongst the best.

PS Got bored of doing the Bechdel test etc (this film failed). It is clear that Bechdel was correct, and not just in relation to Hollywood. Films, in general, are shockingly male centred. It’s comparable to the treatment of ethnic minorities (probably of whatever nation) if they feature as a lead; that is, their ethnicity is important. Casting is rarely ethnicity-blind (movies starring Will Smith and Denzel Washington are probably the exception) and so if women are anything more than appendages of men, then it’s a ‘women’ themed film.

October update

Films I’ve seen in October but haven’t blogged (Bechdel test/protagonist/Lacey test)
The Manchurian Candidate
(2004) F,M,P
The Long Good Friday F,M,P
Rabbit Proof Fence P,F,P
Fish Tank P,F,F
Adventureland F,M,P
Lemon Tree F,F,P
Extraordinary Rendition F,M,P

Bechdel test passes 15/38
Protagonist: female 12/32
Lacey test: 19/20
The first film to fail the Lacey test (where two named men have a conversation about something other than women was Fish Tank – nice one).