Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his writings will help launch his careers.
My first thought as the film ended was simply "Wow". The Devil All the Time is a powerhouse of a film, weaving together several different stories in a unique and haunting way. Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson give incredible performances, supported by Sebastian Stan and Bill Skarsgard. The cast doesn't stop there, adding Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, and the always wonderful Mia Wasikowska. While not everyone had scenes together, the actions of certain characters added weight to other characters. It's a film that proves everyone affects everyone in one way or another, i.e. the six degrees of separation theory.
The film follows several different stories. First, we have Willard, a young man returning home from war. As he's heading home, he stops at a diner and instantly falls in love with a waitress. Together, they have son Arvin, who will eventually become Tom Holland's character. The second story follows Carl, a photographer who has a morbid obsession. I can't reveal too much about him without getting into spoiler territory but he is vital to two generations worth of story. The third story involves religious fanatic Roy and his wife Helen who leave their daughter Lenore in the care of Willard's mother and disappear. What happens is something you just have to see for yourself. The final story centers around a grown-up Arvin and his step-sister Lenore.
Yes, there is a ton of story in this film's 2 hour and 18 minute runtime. It doesn't feel like a long film, however. It's so easy to get lost inside Antonio Campos' writing and directing. The story envelopes the viewer and makes you feel like you're inside the film, watching from the sidelines. Even though Willard and Arvin are both deeply flawed men, Campos has a way of making you care for them and wish they could find the peace they so desperately seek. The icing on top of the cake was that the narrator in the film was the author of the book on which the film is based! How often does that happen?
Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson were outstanding in their roles. Tom has pretty much been viewed as a kid in his movie career but if there was ever a movie role that made a kid a man, this is it. Tom's had his right of passage and I am excited to see what he does next. He just proved the range he has extends beyond helpless kid in The Impossible, troubled sailor in In the Heart of the Sea, and superhero Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In The Devil All the Time, he's a tortured soul and that's something he's never touched on before. Robert Pattinson not only changed his accent but he also changed his voice entirely, portraying a preacher who has a taste for young women. Robert has done some incredible drama in the past but he's never unnerved me like he did in this film. Fantastic work all around.
The film's message is actually rather deep. Some might see it as an attack on religion but that's not the case at all. It's speaking against the people who use religion to their own ends, perverting God's wisdom to make their sin look pure. It actually reminded me of a post I saw on Facebook once that said "I can't believe I grew up thinking using God's name in vain was saying 'oh my God' and not using God to manipulate people and advance your own agenda." How true that statement is. There's so many people out there who are considered "good Christians" but are actually repulsive human beings. The film has such a powerful message and I hope you take away from it what I did.
In conclusion, this was a powerful, moving, haunting, tragic film that deserves award nominations for Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson. Incredible acting, incredible story, the film hit all the marks and scored a perfect 4 out of 4 from me.
© 2020 Nathan Jasper