The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★½

“Some people were born just so they could be buried.”

not to bring up Faulkner again, and I’m well aware that this is also based on a much more recent novel, but TDATT gave me the same love-hate whiplash as Absalom, Absalom (and to a lesser degree As I Lay Dying) did when I first read it. absolutely miserable and bleak and oppressively tangled up in its own feverish narrative that drawls on and on for no reason at all instead of structuring this into a half-sensible sucession of events that will end up influencing each other in a more unexpected way, and just generally averse to providing its characters with anything else but the way to hell and public infamy. 

contrasted with that is my sadistic intrigue for any kind of family decay, even more so if carried out in a spiral of violence that inherently stems from and is wrought through with the specter of twisted faith and turned religion. the southern gothic is home to this main theme and has little trouble developing it in its hauntings of patriarchal self-destruction and a rich localized history. a certain pastiche is no doubt attached to it here, not least by choosing the very author to narrate the film through the present lens looking back on the past, but in general Campos successfully configures this as his own adaptive work too. 

I’m a big fan of his The Sinner show but have not seen anything from him outside of that until now. although flawed and with one too many weak limbs still attached, it’s an impressive ode to the genre. I don’t like either its bare length or how it hops back and forth between story fragments - from which you can tell that it was at one point supposed to be a tv show - and yet it’s in that flitting back and forth where it establishes its own mind falling apart gloriously while going off on a tangent about the devil being all around in other people. hopeless cinema. def doesn’t hurt that this is some of Tom Holland’s best stuff either

and maaaan this movie looks so fucking gorgeous. shooting on 35mm just does something for these and adds a sun-kissed grain to the many daylight scenes only to fool you for another moment into carrying on in the hopes of the nostalgically loaded image providing at last some comfort. it won’t. it’s long and dark and uncomfortably meticulous about telling you too many useless backstories but it’s through these shifting perspectives that it becomes collective rotten work and while its rancid smell stings, it does somewhat satisfactorily so coming from the corpses of its sinners.

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