8:00 PM, 27th August, 2008
The title (or so we're told in the opening credits) is the second half of a Jewish saying: "May you have an hour in Heaven - before the Devil knows you're dead."
For these characters, it's never quite heaven they reach, even before the consequences of their weaknesses and conniving catch up with them. Remember William H. Macy's used car salesman in Fargo? Imagine a film with several of him, each one dog-paddling his way from one scam, crime or cover-up to the next. Unlike Fargo, this film can't be considered a comedy (not even a black one), and there's nobody on the screen for us to unreservedly love. We don't like these people - but we're still deeply involved.
It all starts when Hank (Hawke), probably the most sympathetic of the film's losers, allows his brother Andy (Hoffman) to talk him into committing the perfect crime, ; scarcely a crime at all, as armed robberies go, and heaven knows they need the money, and what could possibly go wrong?
What follows is a complete pig's breakfast - although not so far as film technique is concerned, even though veteran director Sidney Lumet starts the film in the middle and leaps forwards and backwards and sideways as though he's continually saying: "But wait - I forgot to tell you...". The narrative is complicated but never confusing, and with each cut we feel as though we're moving towards, never away from, the more interesting story.