The grim lesson of "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is delivered by an elderly jewelry dealer sitting in a tiny, dark room somewhere in the diamond district of Manhattan. "The world is an evil place," he declares, with the authority of someone who has seen and done plenty of bad things. "Some people make money from it, and some people are destroyed by it." "Devil," directed by Sidney Lumet from a script by Kelly Masterson, is a chronicle of destruction -- physical, spiritual and moral. That most of the victims and most of the perpetrators are members of a single family gives the story some of the suffocating fatalism of an ancient tragedy. But the workings of fate figure far less in the narrative than bad choices and unlucky accidents. The evil in this world arises not out of any grand metaphysical principle, but rather from petty, permanent features of the human character: greed, envy, stupidity, vanity. There are no demons on display, just small, sad, ordinary people. The filmmakers rigorously tally the results of their sins, minor lapses made monstrous by the failure of love and the corruption of ambition. Simple, familiar desires -- for money, sex, status, respect -- end in murder.
To read the rest of this review, visit The New York time