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Non-Review Review: The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time demonstrates that the adjective “novelistic” isn’t always a compliment.

Writer and director Antonio Campos is clearly aiming for an epic sweep to The Devil All the Time. The film unfolds over the course of several decades, following several intersecting lives in rural Ohio in the space between the end of the Second World War and the height of the Vietnam War. This is a tale that spans generations, with an impressive density. Small characters get huge arcs, dramatic twists hinge on chance encounters, and a large amount of the film’s plot is delivered by way of folksy omniscient narration.

Holland of the Free?

It is easier to admire The Devil All the Time than it is to appreciate it. Campos has drawn together a formidable cast to tell a story that explores a host of big ideas about small town life. The Devil All the Time clearly aspires to be a piercing study of religion, sex and violence in the American northeast. The film maintains an impressive atmosphere, in large part due to Campos’ moody direction and the work of Lol Crawley and the rumbling soundtrack from Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.

However, nothing in The Devil All the Time has room to breath. There are so many elements competing for narrative space that even films two-hours-and-twenty-minute runtime feels overstuffed. Characters are never allowed to stew or develop in a way that a story like this demands, instead reducing the movie to a series of plot points and thematic observations delivered in a rich and moody manner, but without any real substance to bind them all together.

Book ‘im.

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Non-Review Review: The Ides of March

It’s very hard to make a movie about politics without feeling a little bit forced – as if you’re shoehorning in a particular viewpoint or an ideology, setting up strawmen for the movie to bulldoze over on the way to the final scene. It’s to director (and actor) George Clooney’s credit that The Ides of March manages to avoid seeming too preachy or too staged, instead opting to comment on the nature of political integrity, rather than accusing specific ideologies of having it or lacking it. Set within a Democratic Presidential Primary, the movie shrewdly avoids focusing on an ideological or political gap, instead contemplating the harsh realities of any political maneuvering.

Are the gloves coming off?

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