The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★½

This film works primarily because of its dedication to its macabre and rather hopeless philosophy. It's genuinely impressive how meaningless the best scenes make life feel and I have to give credit to Antonio Campos for translating the grimness I imagine is present Donald Ray Pollock's novel. The cast does a uniformly affecting way of presenting the sheer desperation and self-manipulation present in the gritty narrative. Delusion is a them at the the center of the film, as directly stated by Robert Pattinson's slimy preacher in a sermon obviously intended as his way to mask what he knows as the truth in order to accept a reality that suits him better. The irony, of course, comes in the fact that he is deluding himself through this theatrical demonstration. In fact, every character in the film is deluding themselves in some way or another, whether it be turning to religion in order to feel some imaginary form of protection, putting a little too much faith in the unjust privilege granted to law enforcement, or believing that anyone can be forgiven of their violent actions and return to a normal life.

Although I definitely enjoyed the film more often than not and was satisfied by the filmmaking and performances, I definitely feel a bit underwhelmed in a few areas, one of which is the completely unnecessary narration that added no significant personality that would have been absent without it, nor did it reveal any information that was fairly obvious based on the visuals alone. The pacing is all over the place and I never felt the shifts in time other than the reveal that the child protagonist was now an adult. I also feel as though most characters are more devices to present the themes than fully fleshed out individuals. They all have darkly intriguing backstories but Tom Holland's character is the only one who seemed to grow over the course of the film.

Still a very solid thriller and thematic exercise that effected and even disturbed me in numerous places throughout and I'm glad to say it did leave me thinking. Netflix seems to be making more and more challenging and artistically expressive films as of late and it certainly seems they are allowing content creators the freedom to follow through with their visions. Although I didn't quite love this film, it's another example of that so. I hope this allows for more films like this one and better to receive funding.

Creek liked these reviews