Dave's Rating:

4.5

… giving it everything they've got …

Who's in It: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, Michael Shannon, Amy Ryan

The Basics: Two brothers, epic losers both, decide to rob the mom-and-pop jewelry store. The thing about that is that it's their own mom and pop. And they can't even do that right. So the movie becomes the heist gone wrong, complete with time rewinds, varying perspectives and a relentless, increasingly grim outcome that heaps misery upon misery with every new revelation.

What's the Deal? What's great about this movie is how it meticulously, like clockwork, throws tiny amounts of doom at its characters until it's a crushing mountain that they can't escape. And you're sitting there holding your breath while they're destroyed. It's like a horror movie where the victims are the psychotics and they simply do themselves in.

Who's Great: Well, everyone really. This is an actor-y movie. Even if you think the plot is a little implausible, and you're worn out by the grand tragedy of it all, you can't deny that the actors aren't giving it everything they've got. Obviously Philip Seymour Hoffman — who reeks of hate through the whole movie — is awesome, because I don't know if he knows how to not be. But people in tiny roles are allowed to do their thing too. You may not know who Amy Ryan is (she's mindblowing in Gone Baby Gone) and she has a thankless role as the where's-my-child-support-check mom, but she takes it and very precisely kills it with her bare hands.

Even Ethan Hawke Isn't a Pain to Watch, and I'm No Fan of Ethan Hawke: Mostly because I think he's kind of pompous onscreen. Like at all times. But here, he's stripped of his usual ways of communicating, that fakey charm he likes to use, and his character is reduced to rubble. It's not that I delight in that in any proxy way, it's just that he's pushed out of his comfort zone, sort of like in Training Day. He might be at his best when he's put-upon.

How Wrung Out You'll Be When It's Over: Very.

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