The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★★

Two early scenes in Antonio Campos’ bold, bizarre and destined to be misunderstood The Devil All the Time introduce the dichotomy the film aims to bridge. In one, a small town waitress named Charlotte (Haley Bennett) sneaks some food out the back door of a diner to the homeless man her employer has banished from the premises. In another, a World War II grunt named Willard (Bill Skarsgård) happens upon a fellow soldier who’s been tortured, flayed and crucified yet somehow clings to excruciating consciousness even as insects eat away at what remains of his flesh; Willard puts a bullet through the poor man’s brain. These are illustrations–one wholesome, one harrowing–of the same impulse toward mercy. Charlotte and Willard soon meet and are married, even further joining their similar though differently expressed philosophies. The deep well of suffering and brutality from which Campos repeatedly draws over the course of The Devil All the Time is not present despite the movie’s Christian values but because of them, especially when you’re talking about that old time religion...

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