'The Devil All The Time' - Joe's Take
2020 I 18+ I 138mins I Dir: Antonio Campos
Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.
The film is strongest in its opening moments when establishing the central storyline of a tormented man returning from the Vietnam war to start a family in the small town of Knockemstiff. This is mostly due to Bill Skarsgårds amazing performance which sets the bar high for the rest of the film. Watching him pass on his distorted views to his young son in earlier scenes really helps to establish the boys struggles later on in the film when we see Tom Holland carrying the weight of his fathers teachings. I would have happily watched this storyline alone for the full runtime in a film that explored these characters in greater detail.
What The Devil All The Time choses to do instead is open itself up to multiple narratives with a star studded cast (Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Jason Clark to name a few) to provide something that is consistently entertaining, well acted and packed with shocking violence that for the most part works effectively as an exploration of affliction and torment, even if it sometimes moves a little too fast for its own good and provides little time to understand all of its characters and their relationships with each other. I feel a mini-series would have served the storyline better and would have helped these problems whilst spreading out the violence that starts to feel repetitive and not as earned by the end of the film.
In particular there is a storyline involving a psychopathic couple that take photographs of hitchhikers that they pick up and torment which I found to be slightly tasteless and was a notable weak point for a section of the film for me. All nitpicks aside the problems I have with this film are mainly due to loving so much about everything else on show and with all that said, it certainly pulled itself together in its closing moments.
The Devil All The Time certainly utilises it's star power effectively and is consistently entertaining throughout. Having author Donald Ray Pollack's voice narrate the film is a great touch to bring the source materials personality to life and despite the film having too much story for its runtime everything that is here is certainly entertaining regardless.
STARRING: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett.
BEST QUOTE: “Some people were born just so they could be buried.”
FUN FACT: Chris Evans was originally cast as Deputy Lee Bodecker, but had to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. His Marvel co-star Sebastian Stan took over the role.
IF YOU LIKED: No Country For Old Men, Crash, A Place Beyond The Pines
'The Devil All The Time' Trailer