‘The Devil All the Time’

(film review)

‘The Devil All the Time’ is a 2011 adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s novel. It is worth watching primarily through the amazing cast, assembled by film director Antonio Campos and producer Jake Gyllenhaal.

I will say at once, the cast is bribing. This film brings together the great stars of Hollywood: everyone’s favorite Robert Pattinson, talented Tom Holland, charismatic Bill Skarsgård (the same scary clown from ‘It’), charming Mia Wasikowska, magnetic Sebastian Stan and rising star Eliza Scanlen.

The slogan of the film “Some people are just born to be buried” sets the rhythm of the whole picture. Ohio, like all of America, is stuck somewhere between World War II and the Vietnam War. Faith in the world and humanity are lost – we have to rely on one thing: God.

‘The Devil All the Time’ is a very slow film. Its timing exceeds two hours, and although this duration can be exhausting, here it is, in principle, justified, because we will witness the key events in the lives of two generations of the Russell family, Laferte and Henderson / Bodecker.

The difference between the heroes is the reasons for their ungodliness. Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) loses faith because of his fanatical father Willard (Bill Skarsgård), who could not cope with the loss of his wife and sacrificed himself to higher powers. Arvin Lenore’s half-sister (Eliza Scanlen) believes so strongly in God that she takes for granted the words of the new pastor Tigardin (the excellent role of Robert Pattinson) about the communion. He is in no hurry to save the city and the faith, but pretends to be Jesus to seduce young girls. Finally, Sheriff Lee Bodecker (Sebastian Stan) turns a blind eye to the crimes of waitress sister Sandy (Riley Kio) and her fiancé-photographer Carl (Jason Clark), who are involved in serial murders with a bias towards the contemporary art.

The atmosphere is conveyed simply magically. Faded palette of colors, desert locations, all around the atmosphere, soaked in dust and dirt. And in the frame there are the heroes, each of whom has his own sin.

The film will be difficult to watch for those who do not like rural landscapes and drama. It is difficult to say whether there is even one bright moment in the film. Each tragedy is followed by another major one. A whirlwind of violence and dirt drowns the characters, depriving the viewer of his last hope for something good in the end.

As for the particular kind of nonlinearity of the story, it seems like a good trick that benefits. The characters are connected by an invisible thread. The further we go to the godforsaken South America, the more blood is shed.

The film talks a lot and inconsolably about faith. Each hero is persecuted by the figure of God, and each of them is absorbed in his religion. Those who are fully committed to the faith are on the verge of madness and bigotry every minute. Those who believe in a higher power as something bright and inviolable fatally condemn themselves to misfortune. At the same time, you can’t call ‘The Devil All the Time’ as anti-religious. What happens is still subject to some fate – terribly sarcastic and witty. The constant gloomy smile dissolves into an adhesive atmosphere close to the southern Gothic. God may have left these places, but everyone will be rewarded. As if the film director reminds us that nothing can save us from pain and death. After all, the devil is always here, and the evil that can be found inside a person never sleeps.

Rating: 9/10

PROS: Star cast; especially exceptional plays by Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Steen and Robert Pattinson; noteworthy camera work; authenticity of surroundings and costumes; the accent of the characters and the voice of the narrator; the soundtracks to the film perfectly convey the atmosphere.

CONS: Some may not like the gloom and hopelessness of the picture; big timing.

CONCLUSION: A difficult film, but very fascinating and makes you think about life and how all people are connected.

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