James Gray’s highly anticipated Armageddon Time is a coming-of-age memoir set in the 80’s based on Gray’s experience growing up in Queens, New York, as told through the life of Paul Graff (Banks Repeta) and his friend Johnny Davis (Jaylin Webb).

With an all-star cast like this, it comes as no surprise that everyone delivers a phenomenal performance. Repeta and Webb impress with their ability to grapple with complicated emotions and by bringing forth internal struggles in their own subtle ways. Some of the best moments take place between Paul and his grandfather, as played by the great Anthony Hopkins, who adds a necessary tenderness that contrasts the rest of Paul’s home life. 

We’re put in Paul’s shoes, and because we’re seeing the world through his eyes, we gain an insight into how a child might view and react to adult issues such as politics, financial troubles, and death. This forces us to understand each character and situation from a child’s point of view, which only heightens the confusion, fear, and exasperation.

There are many interesting themes explored here, the most crucial of them being Paul learning through Johnny how deeply rooted racism is in America, but the introduction of all these concepts in one film becomes overwhelming. While this aspect works to emphasise just how chaotic the world is at that age, it still feels as though everything’s been spread too thin, leaving most of the storylines feeling shallow and incomplete. 

Armageddon Time is both written and directed by Gray with such love, where the deeply personal touch really shines through in the heartfelt moments. Despite all of the beauty in this film, by the end, you’re left unsatisfied and wondering: what really changed in the lives of these characters? Did they learn anything at all?



CAST: Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Anthony Hopkins, Banks Repeta, Jaylin Webb

DIRECTOR: James Gray

WRITER: James Gray

SYNOPSIS: A coming-of-age story about the strength of family and the generational pursuit of the American Dream.