Armageddon Time by James Gray: the end is nigh

Picture of the film ARMAGEDDON TIME by James GRAY © DR

Nine years after The Immigrant, James Gray returns to the Festival de Cannes in style with the more personal Armageddon Time, in Competition. Starring Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong, this autobiographical-flavoured feature film is a coming-of-age tale in which a young dreamer in 1980s Queens emerges into adulthood, and reflects on the American Dream.

Paul Graff (Banks Repeta) enjoys a peaceful childhood in a New York borough, getting up to no good with Johnny (Jaylin Webb), a classmate ostracised at school for the colour of his skin. Paul believes himself to be shielded by his mother, who heads up the parent-teacher association, and by his grandfather, to whom he is close. But one incident sees him sent to a private school, where the board is chaired by Donald Trump's father. The rampant elitism and bare-faced racism he encounters there will change his world forever.


After exploring the Amazon in The Lost City of Z and the cosmos with Ad Astra, James Gray dives inwards with this feature film tinged with nostalgia. Looking back over his childhood, the director of The Yards et We Own The Night, bears witness to another time: the early Reagan years, the post-war boom-time years, and the dawning of a new age for both America and young Paul, who watches on as everything he has ever known is turned upside-down. Faced with this upheaval, he clings on to the dreams and values that his grandfather has passed on to him in a bid to survive in a world that clashes with his own.