FoofDeckman’s review published on Letterboxd:
This movie is all over the place. I knew pretty much nothing about it besides the fact that it had a really good cast. I was engaged through the entire thing and I can see what they were going for. I found it to fall just a bit short of what it wanted to achieve.
All of the characters are good for the most part, I like most of the performances in this movie. Although I found it kind of distracting that these British actors are playing these people with thick American southern accents. It’s something you sort of forget about at some point in the movie but it did feel like a weird casting decision. Tom Holland is pretty great in this. I’m not really familiar with anything else he’s done outside of Spider-Man and Disney movies so I was curious on what his range was, he’s pretty good. I wasn’t sure if I’d buy him in a role like this but he plays it well. Robert Pattinson is still, I feel, one of the most underrated actors working right now. He’s still recognized as that guy from Twilight but he’s been really good in any other movie I’ve seen him in. He does a really good job in this movie too, he works really well playing this awful and phony person. Bill Skarsgard and Jason Clarke are great in this movie. I haven’t seen those two actors in serious roles like this before and they did a good job.
The cinematography in this movie is great. This movie experiments with lots of different techniques. It knows exactly how to shoot a scene and convey a certain mood from that. There’s several handheld portions of the movie that I felt were interesting. There’s a specific scene where Harry Melling is talking to the people at church and he’s walking down the middle isle that I found was really interestingly shot. There’s lots of interesting framing choices in this movie that gave this movie a lot of character.
This movie takes a really long time to get the plot rolling. Practically the first 30 minutes or so go by until the actual meat of the story hits. There isn’t really a main character, instead it sort of jumps between a bunch of people going through different arcs. This is probably the biggest complaint of mine with this movie. There’s a really good story in here but I felt it’s structured wrong. There’s several plot points that are established and then end in a few scenes. All of these events build to something but I can’t help but find that a lot of the characterization given to these people was wasted when they are almost entirely used as a plot device. A lot of characters could be cut completely from this movie and it wouldn’t change much. This entire movie could have been trimmed by a good amount.
This movie has narration by the author of the book this is based off of. I think narration can be done well in movies. It shouldn’t be used as a crutch but rather as a way of story telling. This movie decides to use it as a way to spell things out to the audience which I found annoying. There’s certain scenes in this movie where you as an audience member know what happened, but the narration will appear and explain to you what happened anyway. There’s so many flashbacks in this movie to show things that had already happened in the movie that I felt weren’t needed. I can’t really get into detail about any of them particularly without spoiling, but I feel you understand. The movie thinks you’re stupid.
This movie wasn’t bad, but it does feel like wasted potential. There’s a really good story in here that, if told in a different way, could have been really good. This movie is definitely worth checking out, especially in 2020 when there aren’t really that many decent movies out. I was engaged throughout most of it and don’t regret watching it.