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The Devil All The Time (Drama, Thriller) (2020)

Director: Antonio Campos

Writer: Antonio Campos, Paulo Campos, Donald Ray Pollock (Based on novel by)

Stars: Bill Skarsgård, Michael Banks Repeta, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson

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After returning from his time in the war, Willard (Bill Skarsgård) finds himself confronted with an amount of sin similar to what he saw abroad on the battlefield. Nevertheless, he does meet the love of his life while passing through the town of Meade, Ohio. Soon to marry her, she births his only son Alvin (Michael Banks Repeta /Tom Holland), and he makes it his task to confront Alvin with the evil that inhabits this world and the people in it.

The Devil All The Time was originally a novel by Donald Ray Pollock who has written a handful of books. It features a plethora of distinct characters living and travelling between the town of Meade and Knockemstiff in the state of Ohio, telling stories that are compelling yet sinister.

This is definitely one of the lengthiest movies to be seen on Netflix this year; which is not just due to the running time. The Devil All The time is intentionally sluggish taking plenty of time to draw out the life of several characters with Holland’s character taking up most of the latter half. The time it takes to develop the story, and all its characters could likely be enough to bore the typical viewer to death. That’s without meaning to say that it’s not alluring or gripping, but the tedious development and dragging plot is enough to test one’s patience and conviction. Once I got used to the tempo and was following Alvin’s various life stages for a long while I realised it’s likely one of the most cinematographically stylised films of the year. The setting and focus on the religiously devoted is bold, and yet another reason why The Devil All The Time might not be for everyone.

During the lengthy running time, several different characters will get a lot of screen time, and you’re left wondering whether they’ll ever coincide. Taking the breathing room into account, I’m left wondering if the plot would’ve been served better in a limited mini-series for example, that would give it time to explain some more segments of the original novel and could perhaps introduce the characters into their own chapters leading up to the finale episode.

Despite all of that, the performances throughout show a lot of depth for Tom Holland in his future career and showcase the impeccable acting of the others even more. The specifically styled way and thick accents in the old American setting will keep you captivated, although the audiences that will stay excited about it throughout might be scarce.

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Devotedly grim and slow yet intriguing to those that willing to pay penance.