Charles Murray’s “The Devil You Know” hits theaters this week and looks to deliver an emotionally fueled story of redemption, paired with an exploration of the power of family. Omar Epps leads as Marcus, a man with a troubled past who is looking to leave all that in the rearview to get a fresh start on life. He returns to his hometown and instead of feeling the light at the end of the tunnel, Marcus soon finds himself embroiled in more darkness that this time is swarming around his tight knit family
Now, where I feel “The Devil You Know” thrives is with its cast of characters. Admittedly, while the story does have a compelling arc from a broad view, and frequent moments of heartfelt intrigue. The overall pace is a bit slow and maybe too methodical. With many of the second-act elements feeling more than a skosh recycled from other crime dramas. There is however an intriguing family dynamic at play that grows throughout the runtime, and through the performances you can truly feel the weight of many scenes while connecting to the internal turmoil thrown at Marcus. So, the heightened engagement level in this film was a pleasant surprise.
William Catlett, fresh off a great turn in the Netflix miniseries “True Story” comes in here to provide the story a rich, layered character to pair with Marcus. He was a fantastic co-star to carry the dramatic weight with Epps. While Michael Beach, Michael Ealy, Theo Rossi, Glynn Thurman, and more, all pump life into these grounded everyday characters. Something that really does complement the subject matter well. This is an intimate portrayal of family, and the bonds of love, both good and bad that come from that power of unity, and everyone brings an authenticity and an emotional intensity to elevate the material making it feel gritty, and imperfect. Such as life.
The progression does keep the intrigue locked in while watching. Despite a couple short lulls in the middle act, the narrative does consistently progress forward. It doesn’t try to weave in too many unnecessary subplots. This keeps the focus on the journey Marcus embarks on and the torment he experiences from what life throws at him. He is faced with many difficult choices. Decisions that have almost immediate ramifications, and with the efforts from Epps you can feel the stress of these burdens with him. And that was an element of this film that I enjoyed because it keeps the engagement level up, while also keeping the melodrama down.
“The Devil You Know” is a simple film that doesn’t veer out of its lane for the sake of theatrics. And regardless of its familiar plot beats, the capability of the cast gives it an appealing ensemble to spend a couple hours with. You can easily connect to this family and its members, all for various reasons. You can easily ponder what you would do in this man’s position and when the finale kicks in, the result is raw cinematic emotion, wrapped up in a delightfully unassuming package.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.