“Armageddon Time” Trailer Reveals James Gray’s Star-Studded, Critically Acclaimed New Feature
Writer/director James Gray has returned from deep space, where his last, excellent feature Ad Astra was mostly set, to a very specific place on Earth. Gray’s latest feature, Armageddon Time, is a deeply personal coming-of-age drama set at the cusp of Ronald Reagan’s America, a place of panting optimism and deep-seated, still largely unexplored racism. The cast, led by Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Strong, and Jessica Chastain, offers the big names in Gray’s ensemble, but this story revolves around two young boys, played by Banks Repeta and Jaylin Webb Armageddon Time made its world premiere at Cannes this year and has been hailed as “quietly extraordinary” by Time‘s Stephanie Zacharek, a “truly poignant, troubling, and ultimately brilliant work of memory and self-implication,” by Vox‘s Alissa Wilkinson, while The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody writes that, “Gray lovingly conjures what he cherished while recognizing that it was inseparable from the epochal horrors that its seeming normalcy was fostering.
The trailer reveals the budding friendship between Paul Gaff (Repeta) and Johnny (Webb), two sixth graders at PS 173 in Queens. Paul is white and Johnny is black, and in early 1980s America, this kind of friendship could be fraught—in the best of cases. Eventually, the boys are separated when the rebellious Paul is removed from the school he attends with Jaylin. When Paul reveals to his grandfather, Aaron (Hopkins), that the kids at his new private school say “bad words about the black kids,” Aaron asks him what he said in response, Paul says, “Obviously nothing, of course.” His grandpop isn’t impressed by this, telling Paul about how his own mother fled Europe for America because of the persecution she faced for being Jewish. “They hated us then, and they still hate us,” he says. “Next time those schmucks say anything bad about those kids, you’re going to say something,” he says.
Gray is a deeply gifted filmmaker, having made trips to the Amazon in The Lost City of Z and the aforementioned interstellar drama of Ad Astra sizzle with specificity—these are epic backdrops, no doubt, but Gray’s attention to character and story made them both feel personal. With Armageddon Time, he’s taking direct aim at his own childhood and the things, some good and some very, very bad, that shaped him. The critics at Cannes were moved by the results, and this greatly affecting trailer will give you a hint as to why.
Check out the trailer below. Armageddon Time arrives on October 28.
Here’s the synopsis for Armageddon Time:
From acclaimed filmmaker James Gray, ARMAGEDDON TIME is a deeply personal story on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship, and the generational pursuit of the American Dream. The film features an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong.
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Featured image: (L to R) Jaylin Webb stars as Johnny Crocker and Michael Banks Repeta stars as Paul Graff in director James Gray’s ARMAGEDDON TIME, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Focus Features