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In a normal year, a new movie from Netflix is like a bonus, something extra for movie fans to enjoy in between big theatrical releases. However, in the new normal, Netflix films are one of the major pillars of entertainment as theaters are still largely closed down. Of course, if what you need from Netflix is something that feels warm and comfortable, you won't find it with The Devil All the Time. While there is a lot to recommend about the movie from many critics, it is, without question, a brutal film that won't appeal to many.
With a stellar cast, the film is doing well with critics overall. Few critics find the film particularly bad, but not everybody finds the movie to be a complete success either. CinemaBlend's own Mike Reyes gave the film a barely passing three-star review and says that while the story presented is interesting, it's just not presented in a way that is going to engage most audiences. From his review...
The Devil All The Time is a sampler pack of misery that would have been better suited by either tighter editing, or a TV show approach.
The Devil All the Time tells a collection of interlocking stories and contains a cast that includes Tom Holland, Riley Keough, and Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, and Bill Skarsgaard. There's a lot going on in the story, and while some find the film to be ultimately less than the sum of its parts, for other critics, there's a lot to appreciate. One thing that pretty much everybody agrees on is that the movie is quite dark, the real definition of a gritty movie. For some, it's too much, but The San Francisco Chronicle ultimately found it all quite compelling...
The Devil All the Time is really a portrait of a place, told through the lives of several people across a span of about a dozen years, and the thing that makes it interesting — from start to finish — is that this place is so brutal and appalling and unexpected in its various cruelties that we cannot stop watching.
With a cast so large and so consistently good, it's nearly impossible to single out more than a few players, though it's maybe most gratifying to see Holland so far from Peter Parker mode; his performance is delicately underplayed, which is not a claim Pattinson can probably make with a straight face.
However, while many critics have good things to say about The Devil All the Time, not every critic thinks the movie is really quite as important, dark, or heavy as it thinks it is. Mashable probably has the harshest review of the bunch, which found the movie to be so self-serious it tips over into silly...
And yet, it's hard to muster up any feeling stronger than "aw, sweetie" about these unconvincing visions of moral depravity. The more self-important this film becomes, the sillier it gets, especially because The Devil All the Time manages to trip over every overplayed trope on its way to saying not much of anything.
Most critics feel that The Devil All the Time succeeds it its dark and twisted tale more than it fails, though whether that's the sort of movie people are actually looking for right now, we'll have to wait and see. The Devil All the Time is now available on Netflix.