The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★★½

Antonio Campos' adaptation of The Devil All The Time, narrated by the novel's author Donald Ray Pollock, tells the intertwining stories of several characters in a small, religious town and the events that lead them all down a dark path. First off, I adore Campos' direction, which is remarkable, not only does he craft a beautiful picture, but he manages to get some fantastic performances from the cast, weaving together multiple characters, stories, and time periods, starting in the 1940s before jumping to the 1950s/1960s, showing how people's stories can intertwine in the most unexpected, and sometimes violent, ways.

Speaking of, let's talk about the characters and performances. Tom Holland is absolutely brilliant, giving what is easily the best performance of his career as Arvin, a troubled youth. Bill Skarsgard plays Willard, Arvin's father, whose influence on Arvin as a child carries into his actions later. Robert Pattinson steals the fucking show as Reverend Preston Teagardin, a preacher with a sinister side, and Eliza Scanlan is brilliant as Lenora, Arvin's adopted sister, who becomes enveloped in the deceptive personality of Reverend Teagardin. Other noteworthy performances are those of Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska, Sebastian Stan, and Harry Melling, who are all absolutely phenomenal.

If I had one major complaint, it would be that the film doesn't really do a great job of getting into the mindsets of its characters, thus leaving a lot of the film feeling as a presentation of it's events, while never delving deeper. Some actors make up for it, like Tom and Robert, who both unequivocally sell their characters, their feelings, and their situations, but others, though great, are really just there.

But otherwise, The Devil All The Time is a dark, atmospheric drama that delves into faith, the blindness of it, and what it can lead people to do to themselves and others. It's gothic tone, shocking and sparse, but graphic depictions of violence, brilliant pacing, and fantastic performances set it up to be one of the best, most interesting, and thought provoking films of the year, even before the competition became a lot more scarce.