Subhash K Jha reviews The Devil All The Time for IWMBuzz

Review of The Devil All The Time: Stunning Dark Violent Drama

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.

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.

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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