Armageddon Time (2022)

November 13th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: James Gray | Cast: Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Strong, Domenick Lombardozzi | US Thriller, 115′

Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway star in this coming of age story about growing up in Queens in the 1980s. Armageddon is a solid but rather bland, sentimental drama that feels overlong and underwhelming, from the director who made his first New York-based drama Little Odessa – about a family of Soviet Jews – at the tender age of 25.

Armageddon Time returns to the same territory with another working class Jewish family trying to fit in. And there are some spirited outbursts both at home and in the classroom, although for the most part it’s a toned down rather docile affair. The plot lines are predictable, and references to the Holocaust are a hollow echo of much more moving dramas on the subject of antisemitism. The oblique references to the local influential Trump family feel like cheap point-scoring with intentionally unlikeable cameo roles from John Diehl as Donald Trump’s father Fred, and Jessica Chastain as the hard-faced US judge Maryanne Trump, along with the fact that the Graff family hail originally from Ukraine.

The youngest boy Paul (Banks Repeta) is possibly an autobiographical portrait of the young James Grey – unruly, artistic and at odds with the rest of the striving family, particularly his hot-headed father (Jeremy Strong). He only really connects with his grandfather Aaron (Hopkins) who will finance his private education after the subversive troublemaker gets a bad name for himself at his local ‘comprehensive’, with his black friend Johnny ending up taking the rap. Celebrated cinematographer Darius Khondji tries to lift Armageddon out of the torpid settings but, all and all, this brings nothing new to the party in contrast with Gray’s later more avantgarde sci-fi outing feature, the space-hopping Ad Astra (2019). MT

ON RELEASE NATIONWIDE FROM FRIDAY 18/11 |  CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

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