The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★

The Devil All The Time doesn't quite feel like a film; it feels more like a 138-minute recap of an entire TV series. Like a "Previously on..." at the beginning of an episode but instead of recapping one 30-60 minute episode it's recapping an entire show. This is all due to the sheer volume of characters and plots - each character and each story needs at least an hour of its own to boil and explore. Instead it's really condensed. The story sprawls from 1945, the end of World War II, to 1969, the beginning of the Vietnam War, structured cleverly enough but each plot cuts back and forth between people and time too quickly.

Since the real author of the eponymous novel lends his voice to the narration of the film, the film also feels like an audiobook set to moving pictures. It just feels like a literal translation - this happens and here's a visual depiction of this, here's another thing that happens and here's a visual depiction of that, etc. There's not a lot of build-up, dynamic, pacing, tension, or anything. The film just sort of moves. The horrors and the tragedies, and there's plenty of them, are truly heartbreaking if you were to read about them, but in the context of this film and its editing, the pain isn't driven home to the heart of the viewers as much as it deserved or needed. It just kinda glosses over them. It's kind of a shame, because all the performances are game.

Given that the The Devil All The Time film just goes through the motions of the plot, the point and the purpose of all the misery is sort of lost. There's a strong argument that could be made, however, that it's a very anti-Christian film, suggesting that Christianity poisons people - especially the poor - because nearly every character has some tie to Christianity somehow. Bill Skarsgard's character loses faith during his time in WWII and Tom Holland's character loses his when his mother dies from cancer; Robert Pattinson is a sleazy preacher who abuses his power and Jason Clarke's serial killer says to have been a Sunday school teacher. For me, though, seeing the title is "The Devil All The Time", it could be said that the film shows how Satan corrupts his way everywhere - even in the faithful and those involved in the church. Which is true. But the "devil" of the title could also be a euphemism for war. As stated before, the film starts at the end of the World War II and ends at the start of the Vietnam War. Because of constant wars (it seems like every generation has one) the cycle of trauma from war continues; some characters deal directly with the effects of war and inflict their trauma onto those around them, while others are affected by the traumas of others and are about to deal directly with the effects of war. But in between wars, we have our own wars. Wars we fight with each other in every day life and wars we fight within each of our selves.

The title really comes from one of the first lines of narration. Skarsgard's character is said to be "fighting the devil all the time". It's pretty obvious that everyone in this film is fighting the devil all the time...although they're not putting up much of a fight. And I'm not sure what the point and purpose of that was.

The 35mm is gooooorrrrrgeousss thooooo.

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