Movie Review: The Devil All The Time
October 12, 2020
Despite the many issues I have with this movie, I think “The Devil All The Time” is worth your time. The film opens with a narration from the author of the novel itself, Donald Ray Pollock, who has a great voice! This narration is key because it gives necessary exposition for the film, which crams way too much information into an already lengthy runtime. The narration not only helps viewers follow the film better, but it also helps to establish some of the characters, even though some characters end up being paper thin in this weak script.
As everyone knows, this ensemble cast is one of the best I’ve seen in a while – which is probably why most people are tuning into the movie. But after seeing the film, I think almost all of the characters were miscast. Tom Holland shows that he can accomplish dramatic roles and do something beyond just Spider-Man, but the script never gives him that “dark moment” Holland previously talked about. Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, and Harry Melling have very little screen time, but they do make an impression. Robert Pattinson does a fantastic job, but only has limited screen presence; I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us with “The Batman.” Jason Clarke gives the same sleepy tone he always does in his roles. Riley Keough is the one female character that is memorable at all, or even gets some sort of dimension. Not a single performance fell flat, I just wish smarter decisions were made casting-wise. Jake Gyllenhaal is a producer on the film, and it simply looks as if he cast different versions of himself.
About a third of the way into the film there is a seven year time jump where Tom Holland’s character has aged. But this is when the problem of casting everyone around the same age comes into play. Sebastian Stan’s character is one we see in both parts of the film (some characters are only present pre-jump and post-jump) and we’re supposed to believe he looks the same after seven years. Jason Clarke is another character that is in the entirety of the film, but in real life is 52 years old. He sticks out like a sore thumb among the rest of the cast, and the relationship he has with Keough’s character comes off as disturbing.
This film can be tough to watch; viewers need to be in the right mindset to sit down for it. It doesn’t go full-on horror, but there are horrific moments and imagery that will stick with you. It acts much like a discount Coen Brothers film. It’s very bleak and there’s a lot happening, but director Antonio Campos keeps viewers intrigued throughout. The production design captures the eeriness of a rundown town, and the cinematography and soundtrack help guide that feeling. Viewers may not love the movie while watching it, but it will stick with you once you’ve finished.
Final Grade: B-
“The Devil All The Time” had me thinking a lot about the historical aspect of the movie. I think the movie overall was historically accurate, it begins in the 1950s, and ends in the 1960s. I thought the transition from the 1950s to the 1960s was a bit confusing since it took me awhile to figure out that Sandy Henderson, Riley Keough’s character, was still alive in the 1960s.
Throughout the movie there is a narrator who explains everything in more detail and gives background knowledge on the characters. The narrator is Donald Ray Pollock, the author of the book, “The Devil All The Time.” In my opinion, Donald Ray Pollock as the narrator added some spice to the movie. His voice is very relaxing to listen to and makes the movie more tasteful.
The setting in the movie is a small town in Ohio called Knockemstiff. I thought the setting was exciting because viewers get to see a wide variety of locations, from the big woods to the small local church everyone attended.
I believe overall the casting was great in this movie. I loved recognizing actors and actresses from different movies and shows, such as seeing Tom Holland (as Arvin), who also plays Spider-Man in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). I think it was interesting to see Holland play Arvin whose personality is fairly different from Spider-Man’s. Although this movie was a good one, I would say that it was morbid. If you are photo-sensitive, I wouldn’t recommend watching it because certain ideas and scenes may remain in your mind after viewing them.
Final Grade: A-