Before the Devil Knows Your Dead

The repetition allows the audience to revisit a

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characters psyches and actions multiple times. The repetition allows the audience to revisit a integral part of the story and develop its meaning without missing important plot lines. It also aids in diminishing or eliminating weakness in the story, as only the critical elements in the story are retold. By facilitating this method, Lumet is able to hold the audience in a suspenseful state for longer than similar films that use a more ordered narrative. Unlike most movies in its genre, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead the film does not use much iconography. There is only one reoccurring symbols that are prevalent in the story line. That is the newspaper page that Hank and Andy’s father, Charles, carries on him that has the killer’s picture on it. He always has it in camera view; it signifies his drive and desire to find the truth behind his wife’s death. Although there is not much
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typical iconography, the singular character narrative acts as the iconography, giving the audience clues and hints to the characters inner thoughts, desires and future actions. By using character development paired with plot development, the explicit, implicit and symptomatic meanings of the film become quite clear. The explicit meaning, or the power the drives the characters is money. The implicit or abstract meaning of the story is that greed destroys all who possess it. Hank’s plot line shows how gluttony corrodes his character and eats away at the fabric that holds a family together. The symptomatic meaning is similar to the implicit in that it shows the destructive capabilities of literally robbing your on own mother. The role that Lumet’s style and vision plays into this film cannot be overlooked. The film is all about the story, and if the story were told in temporal order, it most likely would be cast off as a run of the mill melodrama. However, Lumet’s jumbling of chronological development allows the actors to deliver much more powerful performances. Ethan Hawke, in my opinion, plays the best role of his career as well as equally inspiring performances from Marisa Tomei, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney.
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  • Winter '08
  • blaire
  • Marisa Tomei, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Director Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Devil Knows

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