The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★★½

Antonio Campos’ The Devil All The Time is an incredible epic that follows the intertwining intergenerational stories of an Appalachian community and how extreme revivalist Christianity leads these men to sin under the eyes of god.

Thematically, this is the story of how men are the devil. All men desire status, power, and superiority over others. Some may call this human nature, others may call it sin. The film presents a community of men that consistently use religion as a method to sin in the name of the lord, an apparent hypocrisy that is deadly to all those around them. Women are taken advantage of, and the men can ease the guilt by proclaiming their actions for the greater good of god.

We follow Arvin, a young boy who witnesses extreme sin that doesn’t accomplish a thing, instead killing the only humanity he knows. He is the central figure of the story, and his disassociation from religion is the key to all this film holds.

The film is told nonlinearly, jumping between different years and characters quite frequently. And while it is somewhat convoluted, the nonlinear storytelling comes together clearly and distinctly enough that it all felt deeply significant to the narrative and vital to the cathartic thematic ending.

This ensemble is one of the best of the year. All around this cast is stellar with too many notable performances to name. Tom Holland makes an impression giving an extremely grounded and subtle performance, and Jason Clarke gives one of the best performances of his career so far.

Cinematically this film is gorgeous. It’s all shot on film which gives a rich texture to its setting and atmosphere. The shots are all framed beautifully, making the cinematography a real highlight. The costuming and production design are tonally and contextually perfect, helping make the film exactly what it needs to be.

I hope that this film gets a deeper examination as time goes on. I think it will. It’s rich with detail and meaning, and it’s just stellar as a film. Cant recommend enough.

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