Zachary’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film does just about everything well in terms of adpating Donald Ray Pollock's novel. The book grants it a number of interesting characters, and Campos superbly directs a stacked cast to bring them all to life. I do think the narration is overdone, but it allows for a few moments of insight and gives the whole production that literary feel. The script also manages to retain Pollock's tight plotting, although even though it's playing very close to its source, some of the story's soul seems to have been lost in translation, which maybe accounts for why I keep referencing Pollock's writing. This is a solid adaptation that skims the surface of the book's brutal violence and inspection of the relationship between small town Americans and the good Lord above them.
Mainly I think the issue has to be the scope. The book is structured as a series of vignettes, and the movie follows suit. It never stumbles, but the character arcs, namely Sheriff Bodecker's, can't breathe quite like the performances can. The movie does look even more handsome than the trailers promised, though it'd be welcome if the aesthetic could reflect the gritty narrative a bit better. As it is now, things just come off a bit too sterile. Thankfully it was never boring, nor the humorless slog some early reviews suggested. It left me wanting more, but that's not the worst thing an adaptation can do.