The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★

Despite having a loaded cast, and the ever-so-impressive “gravitas narration with fiddle accompaniment,” this film didn’t work for me. In the past few years, almost all the films I’ve disliked have lacked one thing: control of tone. Tonal train wrecks undercut emotional resonance, and they take me out of a movie faster than you can say, “Why is a preacher dropping a jar of spiders all over himself?!”

The aforementioned Wacky Preacher #1 is apparently famous, but to me, he’s just another kid who saw Paul Dano from There Will Be Blood in a storefront window and said, “I want... THAT ONE!” So over the top and silly. 

So I’m hanging on for dear life, and thankfully it turns out that Wacky Preacher #2 is Robert Pattinson. He’s not bad, but in the showdown scene he goes FULL TILT. You can feel his southern accent slipping as the spittle is spraying. Haley Bennett and Riley Keough are both good, but they don’t have much to do. One of them is the doting wife, and one of them is the doting, uh... partner. 

Tom Holland and Eliza Scanlen are the best part of this film. I know it’s based on a book, but part of me wishes they could have really zeroed in on them. As it stands, their solid performances are too often obscured by director Antonio Campos’s obsession with small town religious zealotry run amok. And amok. And amok...

2020 Ranked

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