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The Devil All the Time

Based on Donald Ray Pollock’s novel, ‘The Devil All the Time’ heavily relies on its huge ensemble cast. Many are well known and are given licence to go against usual screen personas. These types of films are a boon for actors craving the idea fully disappearing into their roles. ‘The Devil All the Time’s religious themes provides just as much power as the performances making for less than hellish viewing.

Coming home from the Second World War, Willard (Bill Skarsgard) is haunted by what he witnessed. Dealing with tragedy while raising his son Arvin (Tom Holland), his actions have a profound impact on Arvin’s life. The following years find Arvin dealing with a cabal of shady characters, including preacher Reverend Preston (Robert Pattinson) among others. How Arvin deals with the devilish hand of fate they provide sets him on a path of no return.

Directed by Antonio Campos, ‘The Devil All the Time’ is consistently compelling. The story deals with how some people use religion to make the most illogical choices. Their steadfast belief in God’s words and how they interpret these pushes many of the film’s characters down destructive avenues. This theme successfully resonates throughout the long run-time, making each character’s dangerously warped motivations and actions clear.

Whilst ‘The Devil All the Time’ can be heavy watching, the performances are first rate. Holland and Pattinson are especially good, giving commanding renditions of fractured people. You can feel Arvin’s percolating rage via Holland’s expert delivery with his myriad of co-stars equally strong. The low-key soundtrack and Campos’ stylish direction move the story along with slow spots rare.

‘The Devil All the Time’ is an excellent if quite dark drama. Not everyone may like it due to its psychological and physical violence. Those aspects make it memorable with the story packing as much punch as the religious texts from which most of its characters beliefs derive.

Rating out of 10: 9

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.

Coco

The best type of children’s movie works on many levels. A Disney or any other animated film doesn’t have to solely rely on bodily function jokes to appeal. As the ‘Toy Story’ series show, a movie aimed at younger viewers can have substance which ‘Coco’ has in spades. An enchanting exploration of culture, family, life and death, ‘Coco’ is a winner that similar works should emulate.

Living in a Mexican village, young Miguel dreams of becoming a musician. Not understanding his family’s fierce opposition to music, Miguel’s life takes a strange turn when a series of events finds him in the Land of the Dead. He meets Hector, one of its inhabitants, with a mysterious connection to Miguel. Wanting to return to the Land of the Living, the odd couple go on a mystical journey where old truths are revealed and new futures are forged.

‘Coco’ offers dazzling viewing without heavy-handed sermonising. Whilst it imparts a few messages, it remembers to have fun as well. Miguel’s dreams can mirror much of ‘Coco’s audience with his general life ambitions to which we can all relate. Although the word ‘journey’ is vastly overused elsewhere, it’s easy following Miguel’s growing maturity as he ironically learns what it’s like to feel truly alive in a place of the dead.

Lee Unkrich directs ‘Coco’ with assurance and is aided by stunning animation. Disney/Pixar are old hands at these type of movies with ‘Coco’ bursting free in colourful life. The visions are all part of the continental flavour ‘Coco’ conveys with the voice cast successfully expressing their character’s myriad of emotions.

‘Coco’ is a high quality work with a strong script and superb visuals. The interesting themes it imparts gives it a broad focus all ages can enjoy. Fun, thought-provoking and touching, ‘Coco’ effectively stands out from the plethora of animated marvels.

Rating out of 10: 8

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON DISNEY+