Streaming services certainly have had an eventful year. With many Americans trapped inside their homes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and other streaming services have been our only escapes from the horrors going on outside.
And with such a nonexistent movie season this year, Netflix has just thrown its hat into the ring for possible Oscar gold with the star-studded crime thriller from Antonio Campos, “The Devil All the Time.”
The film is set over several years, and told from many different perspectives, but the main focus of the film and the closest we have to a main character is Tom Holland’s Arvin.
The viewers follow Arvin’s journey to protect the people he loves as he experienced great loss. However, the film also follows a plethora of other characters including Robert Pattinson’s fiendish reverend who preys on the younger female partitioners, a murderous couple played by Jason Clarke and Haley Bennett and a corrupt cop played by Sebastian Stan.
Right off the gate, I must warn those who plan on seeing this film that is very unrelenting in its grimness, with no levity to be found. The film tackles many different issues, the biggest being the devotion to faith and how far some people are willing to take that faith and abuse it.
One example is about 20 minutes in viewers see a dog crucified as a sacrifice to save a loved one’s life. Needless to say, the film is dark.
However, the biggest issue with the film is, despite having a message, lacking any kind of point to it. The film is not told in a traditional narrative way, oftentimes feeling like an anthology film. It is clear that the character driven style of the story is inspired by Tarantino, but lacks a true sense of direction, or any real reason for these stories to intersect the way that they do. In fact, most of the stories do not connect to each other till the very rushed third act, and then the movie simply ends.
While the film lacks story, it is truly elevated by a phenomenal ensemble cast and some stellar direction from Campos. Holland finally gets to flex some more dramatic acting chops outside his spider suit. Robert Pattinson also shines as the corrupt preacher, even though he is not in much of the film. The film is very well shot and the color palette really helped the cinematography pop.
Overall, Netflix’s crime drama is flimsy on story and narrative, but is propelled by its all-star cast. Campos directs the film expertly, even if not everything on screen has a reason for being there. With a runtime just over two hours, it is a relatively brisk watch, though it is rather slow burn. I would recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a grim thriller, light on story, but heavy on great performances. “The Devil All the Time” is streaming now on Netflix. Rotten Tomatos critics rated the movie with a 66 %. While the audience rated the movie with a 84 % .