24th September 2020

The Devil All The Time Review: Pure Evil In A Neo-Classic

The  Devil All The Time(Netflix)

Starring Tom Holland,Bill Skarsgård,Riley Keough,Jason Clarke,Sebastian Stan,Haley Bennett

Eliza Scanlen,Mia Wasikowska,Robert Pattinson

Directed by  Antonio Campos

Rating: *** ½

Stunning , is  a word that  might have been invented to  describe Anthony Campos’ new dark and violent drama. Set  in the years  following the  World War 2 in  a rural America populated by perverse atonement seekers, periodicity is  the plot’s  playground for unleashing  a kind of  violence that  undermines the very essence of human nature.

And that’s not such a  bad thing at all. Brutality  is a way of life in  modern  times.And cinema  cannot  pretend of its non-existence. The  film  walks the talk creating  a kind  of  twitchy  universe where felony and crime are a way of life. It’s  a savagely irredeemable world where good people, such as  the heroine’s sister Leonara(Eliza Scanlen) get seduced by the  perverse preacher(Robert Pattinson, chilling in his creepiness) and left to  commit  suicide.

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It’s a  world where  a war veteran (Bill Skarsgard,  incredibly anguished)  shoots his son’s pet dog so that his wife  would be freed  of cancer. God, you see, needs  to be appeased. But where IS God ?

In  Campos’s godforsaken world  there are  no  redeeming passages , no epiphany that saves souls. When Leonara realizes she  doesn’t need  to kill herself  for the priest’s  misdemeanour it’s too late. She  has already hung herself.All we hear is  her body dangling in  a creaky quietude.

 I  have  no complaints with the  volume  of  violence   in  The  Devil All The  Time. I’ve seen worse far more brutal  violence in  the Japanese  film Cold Fish and the  Korean  I Saw  The Devil. The  viciousness here is  dimmed down  by a touch of  sardonicism. In  the  way a couple(Jason Clarke  and Riley  Keough)  picks up innocent  hitchikers  and then murders them(but only after the  hitchhiker has sex with his  murderous  wife, okay?) is a looming illustration  of  a world that has sold itself to the Devil  but is yet know what the reimbursement is.

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The film is populated with  a plethora  of smirking characters who are  all somehow related, if not by blood then bloodshed. Adapted  from  Donald Roy  Pollock’s novel, Pollock does the  film’s much-needed  voiceover in a climate so cluttered with  diabolic doings that  it tends to get a trifle claustrophobic.

The  performances range  from the terrific to the terrifying.Ask not who is  brilliant. Ask who is not.

Standing at the centre  of this rudderless morality tale is Tom Holland as  Arvin who  at a very young age  learns  from his troubled father that God is  not listening to the righteous. Holland’s journey from goodness to crime provides  some  kind of  core-centre to  the  film. Otherwise we are pretty much on our own.

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