The major problem with Campos’ adaptation is that it doesn’t know when to stretch and when to cut, while the first half is excessively busy in detail, therefore the film feels drowsy. The second half is more enjoyable but poorly paced.
From Bill Skarsgard to Sebastian Stan to Tom Holland to Robert Pattinson, Netflix’s new exclusive film, The Devil All The Time has got a great ensemble of cast. But, Antonio Campos’ star-studded film isn’t able to grasp the poetic sense of the source material. The original novel written by Donald Pollock mixes poetry with non-linearity but in the film, much of it has been straightened out and eased for the viewers. So, the film isn’t able to move you with the narrative and feels a bit drowsy and jejune. An inter-generational story with so many knots to tie in the end is somehow engaging to watch but if looked closely and compared with the source, the treatment does look ineffective.
An intertwined story of sinners in the disguise of saints and just sinners. Set in a time after World War Two, Willard Russel returns to his home from the war. Even if he has recovered from all physical wounds of the war, there are some mental wounds which he is unable to forget. As he stops for some coffee on his way to West Virginia, he falls in love with a waitress. He marries her but she dies because of cancer. Their little son, Arvin is forced to live with his grandparents when Willred kills himself. Years later, Arvin’s life shakes completely when a new preacher arrives in his hometown.
The major problem with Campos’ adaptation is that it doesn’t know when to stretch and when to cut, the first half is excessively busy in detailing while the second half is more enjoyable but poorly paced. So many events to cover, so many dots to connect that it seems the material needed much more time than two hours. Probably, a miniseries adaptation will do justice to the original book by Donald Pollock. The cast is the main highlight of the film, every actor brings in their best game. Robert Pattinson as Preston Teagardin wins the show, he maintains his unnerving character masterfully.
Tom Holland as Arvin played a high range of emotions brilliantly and it was so good to see him in a dark character, unlike his previous character of friendly neighborhood Spiderman. Bill Skarsgard shined in the first half while every actor gave amazing performances. The omniscient narrator concept works in most parts of the film but towards the end, it seems to disturb the flow of the narrative. The background music at places hits the right notes but most of the time they seem to be purpose-less.
Everything occurs in a cycle but the cycle in the second half seems to be rushed and even goes out of balance at some places. Overall, the film has a stellar cast and source material but it seems like the director is unable to properly play with them. With the intention of easing things up, the film lost the important essence of the book.
Cast: Bill Skarsgard, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Riley Keough.
Director: Antonio Campos
Verdict: Has enough material to hook you up with the drama but isn’t executed cleverly.