After a series of late-career misfires, Sidney Lumet’s last film was one of his best—easily the director’s finest work since 1982’s The Verdict. With 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Lumet returned to his stark, austere roots with a botched robbery that splits an already fraught New York family. Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman (in one of the slimiest performances of his career) top the stellar cast that also features an understated Amy Ryan and a memorably gutsy turn by Marisa Tomei. And as the family’s beleaguered patriarch, Albert Finney is distant, brutal, and heartbreaking. By playing with its timeline and cramming each moment with despair and suspense, Lumet created a taut, deftly paced story that sticks out as one of the best crime dramas since, well, his 1970s run of superb crime stories like Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. Harkening back to those gems, Lumet finished his career by turning an ugly New York story into a beautiful film.
The film shows at 8 p.m. at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $6.