Review: The Devil All The Time (2020)

A compelling and intricate story with an all star cast.

PLOT AND STORY

Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality. The Devil all the Time is a movie you must pay attention to. With multiple characters across multiple timelines every detail matters as we learn throughout the journey just how connected everyone is. 

Based on a novel by Donald Ray Pollock this Antonio and Paulo Campos screenplay has similarities to movies like Crash, Go or early Tarrantino movies. The story is incredibly clever and well connected but I did find myself asking what the point to the story was. This is an intelligent story and is captivating to the audience but it does feel like it lacked a purpose or a final kick to impact the audience.

It’s difficult to determine who would be classed as the main character but Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) is the one I found myself most concerned with. He is a good man making difficult decisions in a troubling time in history. He certainly evolves the most and keeps viewers engaged till the very end. It’s not till the end that I realised this is simply a movie about a group of characters who have a connection to each other and this is their journey to that connection. 

PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION 

This is the kind of movie that wins awards for its production because everything is executed to perfection. The settings and locations look authentic as do the costumes. What stood out for me was its lighting as very often with dark, sullen movies you struggle to see the details during night scenes or in areas of darkness but with The Devil all the Time it was spot on. There are a few night time scenes in the woods and I could see everything while still getting the grasp of terror and desperation in the gloomy environment. 

The director Antonio Campos does not have a huge amount of experience, certainly with anything I am familiar with other than half a dozen episodes of Sinner. I see comparisons to The Coen Brothers, Jordan Peele and Robert Eggers in this movie which I’m sure will help push his name into the limelight.

CAST 

Everyone who is hot right now is in this movie and they all share the screen making it hard to pick out the ‘main’ character. I think the acting on display was outstanding across the board. Everybody gave their all and made the audience feel something for each and every character. 

Tom Holland (Spiderman: Homecoming, Avengers Infinity War) makes you emphasize with him as Arvin Russell. Bill Skarsgard (IT, Castle Rock) makes you feel sorry for him and infuriated with him at the same time as Willard Russell. Sebastian Stan (Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers Endgame) makes you loathe him as Deputy Lee Bodecker. Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Zero Dark Thirty) and Riley Keough (Mad Max Fury Road, Lucky Logan) as Sandy and Carl Henderson make you physically hate them and fear them. Robert Pattinson (The Batman, Tenet) makes you sick to your stomach cringing as Rev. Preston Teagardin.

Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven, The Girl on the Train) Harry Melling (Harry Potter, The Old Guard) Eliza Scanlen (Little Woman, Baby Teeth) Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Crimson Peak) round out and all star cast.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

I really enjoyed The Devil all the Time but appreciate it more on a film making level than on an all out entertainment level. The acting was phenomenal and it’s great to see so many superhero typecast actors doing something different in one place. A clever story and a really well made movie that just lacked an overall purpose or message to the story. 

I watched this via Netflix and received no incentive to review this movie.

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