The trailer for James Gray’s captivating new film Armageddon Time starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway has landed, giving us a glimpse into the hopes and heartbreaks of Reagan-era America.
There’s been a lot of buzz around Armageddon Time, the upcoming period drama from acclaimed filmmaker James Gray, following its rapturous reception earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival. On paper, you’ll see why: Oscar-winning actors, a story rooted in real-life experiences, a snapshot of a seminal moment in US history when change was in the air.
Billed as a deeply personal story on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship and the generational pursuit of the American Dream, the film is a semi-autobiographical drama inspired by Gray’s own upbringing in Queens, New York, in the early 1980s.
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As such, the trailer for the new film winds the clock back to an era when a newly elected Ronald Reagan is taking the seat of power in the White House and the demographic of the city is rapidly changing.
In it, we find a fictionalised version of Gray – an adolescent Jewish boy named Paul Graff – played by Banks Repeta, who has dreams of becoming an artist and forges a friendship with an older Black student, John (Jaylin Webb).
Paul, however, doesn’t know how to deal with the racism levelled at John, nor does he know how to stand up to his headstrong parents, Irving and Esther Graff (played by Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway), who tell him not to associate with his new buddy.
Even though Paul’s Holocaust refugee grandfather, Aaron Graff (Anthony Hopkins), urges his grandson to stand up for his friend against his racist classmates, Paul is ultimately sent away to a majority white private school with ties to the Trump family.
“Sometimes kids say bad words about the Black kids,” Paul confides in his grandfather.
When Aaron asks him how he responds when that happens, Paul says that he does nothing.
“And do you think that’s smart?” Aaron fires back. “Next time those schmucks say anything bad about those kids, you’re gonna say something. You’re gonna be a mensch, OK?”
Paul’s parents want him to make the most of his potential as a second-generation immigrant, even as their own Jewish community faces prejudice and discrimination.
“I want you to be a whole lot better than me,” Strong’s Irving urges in the trailer. Life is unfair. Be thankful when you get a leg up. You make the most of your break and do not look back.”
“All my hopes are with you and your brother,” Hathaway’s Esther tearfully tells Paul. “You’re my whole life.”
Armageddon Time comes to cinemas in the US on 11 November and to the UK on 18 November.
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