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The Devil All The Time (2020)

I was drawn to watch this movie for several reasons, one being Tom Holland, as I had never seen him act in a movie of this genre before and two because I thought it was going to be a horror or at least a thriller. Instead this movie is a mystery with themes which overlap the ideas of right and wrong and whether religion is good or bad. Essentially the narrative revolves around Holland’s character Arvin who we watch grow up throughout the duration of the movie, he starts as a child who’s father (Bill Skarsgard) is devoted to religion, forcing his son to pray for his mothers recovery from cancer. Ultimately when his mother does not recover young Arvin is exposed to the dark side of religion as his father descends into mania. Arvin is then fostered and the narrative continues from his young adulthood.

The narrative tells several stories simultaneously whist also jumping back and forth in time, I found it to be slightly confusing and disconnecting from the characters but as the story itself was so bland, without all of the changing in time and narrative it would have been a lot more boring to sit through. As this movie was based off the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, I felt like the content should have been edited a lot more, a novel is able to take time to introduce the characters in order for the reader to form an opinion of them. This movie skipped every introduction of the characters. I had no feelings towards anyone in the movie, I almost didn’t care what happened to them and I felt this was because the movie was overfilled with content.

The cast is impressive, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska and more who all upheld admirable performances which saved the film from being an utter failure, in my opinion. Especially Pattinson’s role of Reverend Preston, a sadistic, manipulative predator who prays on the young women at his church. His role, although disturbing was by far the most compelling though the whole movie. On the other hand, Tom Holland, where do I begin? Honestly, I like Holland as an actor and I think he did a very good job in this movie, I can’t fault it. My problem is the casting, Holland’s appearance and ultimately his stardom really disconnected me from the movie, he wasn’t believable in this role. I found it hard to believe he belonged in that time period, unfortunately he isn’t easily mouldable into a role for me and I struggled to see past that issue. He doesn’t belong in a gritty, period mystery drama because he looks far too Hollywood and this is the main reason as to why I wouldn’t be watching this movie again. Also, I didn’t really like the narrative… I thought it was trying far too hard to be interesting, crossing over several character paths like a Tarantino movie but with no satisfying ending? Nothing happened, yes several characters died but without any build up or chance for me to want these characters to die or be avenged.

To conclude, I found this movie to lack vitality, there was no energy or strength behind any character or any decision they made. I felt no emotion or support towards any narrative which ultimately meant I couldn’t wait for it to end. I won’t be watching this movie again but if you’ve already watched please leave a comment and tell me your opinion because I know it’s resaved a number of positive reviews.

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Welcome to Film Probe, a platform where I have dedicated my time and energies to reviewing films, tv and more. I pride myself on offering more than just an opinion, but rather a carefully crafted insight into the film's themes, characters, and overall production.

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