By : Samuel Chapdelaine / Staff Writer
Based on the 2011 novel written by Donald Ray Pollock, The Devil All The Time is a substandard movie that honestly could’ve been a fantastic TV series.
Before I attack the movie, I have to at least give a round of applause to this star stellar cast. Tom Holland stars as what appears to be the principal character, Arvin. He did a phenomenal job, and he impressed me with his work, considering most of his recent work is him as Spiderman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Pollock himself appears as the narrator. He did a phenomenal job, but he appeared more than another name to have in the credits than necessary as the flashbacks take care of most of the exposition that is told in the narrations. Bill Skarsgård, who plays Arvin’s father Willard, did a fantastic job. The cast continues to include popular names such as Jason Clarke, Robert Pattinson, Harry Melling, and Sebastian Stan, all of who do an amazing job playing a darker role.
Netflix’s description of the film reads, “Unholy preachers. Crooked lawmen. Murderous lovers. In a godforsaken place, surrounded by sinners, an honorable young man seeks justice.” This is an accurate description of the movie.
The plot takes place shortly after World War II in the middle of nowhere Ohio. War Marine Willard Russell meets diner waitress Charlotte. They fall in love, get married, and have a son Arvin. The story then cuts to Helen Hatton and her husband, preacher Roy Laferty, as they marry and have their daughter Lenora. The story continues through the two families’ respective lives until they connect after Arvin’s grandmother takes in both Lenora and him.
Religion plays a huge role in the film, especially the concept of fearing God. Specifically, when the not-so holy preacher played by Pattinson’s story comes onto the screen.
I will be honest; this movie is so hard to explain, spoiling nothing, so I’ll stop here. Time to really get into my major issue with this movie: the amount of content vs. the amount of time.
This movie runs close to two-and-a-half hours. The issue with that is the amount of stories they try to shove into those two-and-a-half hours is too much. Each storyline attempted to be in-depth and include entire story devices such as exposition, character and plot development, and an ending. The issue with this is that when you’re limited to such a small amount of time, things aren’t done properly. I would’ve rather seen fewer characters/scenes, but have the ones they kept being told at a much higher scale and developed more.
This cramming of storylines makes it so hard to pause the movie and pick it back up after dinner or doing a quick errand since you need to be invested in all the different storylines, hence why I stated it would be a much better TV series.
This seems to be a common trend with Netflix films. There always seems to be too much content or not enough put into the movie time. However, I have to applaud the acting, the scriptwriting, and the direction of the film. This movie is dark, but not in a horror way. It’s like a 1960s noir come to life with 2020 film technology. It’s stunning and definitely worth the watch.
That being said, I have to give this movie a 3/5. The Devil All The Time was just too busy for me. With a long run time and too many storylines for me to think about, this movie is just too full. I wish we could’ve gotten a chance to see a less cynical side of the characters, or maybe how they all came to be as “devilish” as Arvin does. I would’ve preferred each individual storyline broken up for exposition beforehand, then brought together in a story like this.
That’s my opinion if you have the time and the energy, definitely give it a chance.