The Devil All The Time premiered on 16th September 2020 on Netflix. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock, the film is directed and co-written by Antonio Campos and produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and Randall Poster. The 138-minutes-long film stars Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson alongside other cast members.
Everyone’s A Sinner In Their Own Way…
The Devil All The Time shows how violence, rage, anger, and grief impact people. The film shows many families and individuals who inflict violence and are also affected by the same, causing them to take matters into their own hands. The film starts with U.S. Marine Willard Russell who is returning home to Coal Creek after serving in WW II. While he was still serving in the Solomon Islands, he saw something that left a mark on him forever.
The encounter leaves Willard suffering from PTSD. He then has a son with his love, Charlotte, who eventually dies of an illness as Arvin turns 9. Willard teaches Arvin to respond to violence with violence, and even to believe that sacrifice might be the only answer at times. Later when Willard commits suicide, Arvin lives with his grandma and his life is the story that follows.
While watching The Devil All The Time, I had numerous thoughts connected to various lives that the movie followed. The story starts with the life of Willard but further splits into the lives of a corrupt cop Lee Bodecker (Sebastian Stan) and his sister Sandy (Riley Keough), who is married to a serial killer named Carl (Jason Clarke), who suffers from Necrophilia. The story throughout its course gets gritty, bloody, and dark.
Arvin comes face-to-face with tragedy and faces unthinkable pain which are beyond his control in any shape or form. He, however, seeks out to punish people who either wish to harm him or his loved ones. The story also encapsulates Arvin’s love and protective behavior for his half-sister Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), whose mother (Mia Wasikowska) was murdered by a preacher (Harry Melling). Further, it takes the viewers into the life of a corrupt preacher named Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattinson).
Ironically, both Lenora and her mother see their ends because of their blind religious sentiment. The movie has so much to say that each storyline could have been a separate episode in itself. Each character has a story, a past, and a narrative of their own. Each and every character is brought on screen with depth and meaning.
Religion, crime, and grief are some of the main themes that run in the blood of the storyline and there’s no escaping them for the characters, no matter how rational or religious they seem to be. This midwestern gothic tale is one complex watch. Initially, the movie feels a bit slow but it is complex, dark, encapsulating, and difficult to watch throughout.
Tom Holland as Arvin, a teenager with a troubled childhood and an orphan, plays a significantly strong and engaging role. His screen-presence throughout is praiseworthy, while the story at times drifts away from him to the other characters, he remains the core connection to them in some way or the other.
Robert Pattinson as Preacher Preston Teagardin plays a commendable role. His character, in his due part, doesn’t let you forget that good and evil are the two sides of the same coin. He captures his accent with perfection and seems to be at ease with it.
Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell, Harry Melling as Roy Laferty, Eliza Scanlen as Lenora Laferty, Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker, Riley Keough as Sandy Henderson, and Jason Clarke as Carl Henderson are some other characters of the film that carry a significant amount of storyline with themselves and each actor brings with themselves strong on-screen presences and does justice to their respective roles.
Stream It or Skip It
STREAM IT! The Devil All The Time is not only set in a narrative that is complex yet intriguing but the mise-en-scene is simple and takes you back to the simpler yet bloody times. The movie, to me, seemed to be giving out a subtle unsaid message – No matter how hard or blindly you pray or how strong your belief is, no one can save you from the devil, the evil, that is present in humanity – in all of us.
The gore and violence are something not everyone would have expected and it might even not cater to some of the viewers’ interest but still, the movie is a stellar collection of narratives and actors you should experience.
The Devil All The Time is now streaming on Netflix.
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