The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★½

The Devil All the Time unfortunately contains semi-disparate vignettes connected in the end, it seems, for the sake of connection. For a single story, the film could have achieved a much more powerful and succinct punch if it had focused on the strongest arc, Arvin, as he comes to terms with his childhood trauma, and the unexplainable violence of the world. That is, if an omniscient narrator hadn't been there to explain every character moment; though it gave me a smirk to know the book's original author narrated the film, his voice is there to coddle the audience through every beat. Even as Arvin reaches his emotional climax, we are painfully explained his realization, and this was really infuriating, especially with such a talented cast that had the capability to convey these themes and changes externally, if they had not been cut down by a filmmakers lack of trust in his audience. The cinematography is both luscious and gritty, presenting the viewer with a complicated lustful view of a dark and debased landscape, filled with broken people. The toxicity of dependency on religion is aptly explored within the reactionary violence of people desperate for an explanation for evil, though the utter immorality of the narrative tends to meander in the marshes, seemingly without any answers. And cynical ambiguity isn't inherently a detractor, but within such an ambitious and dreary ensemble, most will want a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel... preferably not read to you like an official book reading.

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