Armageddon Time

Armageddon Time ★★★½

I'll say first the simple, the central performance could be better, he looks like James Gray, I imagine that is why he was cast, but he's not all that good. Kind of carries a similar expression throughout which limits the character just a bit.

Now the complicated. Have to admit going into this I thought this was going to be easier to reckon with than it ended up being. Despite suggestions by the trailer, far closer to 400 Blows than Belfast. James Gray likes his ambition and this is certainly the case here, far more than coming of age, with a look into his childhood with very little nostalgia built around the concept of the American dream as fashioned through the conversative politics of the era. Although there are bits of joy to be found (mainly via Anthony Hopkins's grandfather character), largely a very painful film about dealing with the frustrations of youth, whether that be in not fitting into school, being punished at home, or seeing another fall even further due to the inequalities of society. Everything is incased in the idea of the "boots strap" mentality and how that clashes with our central character's reality, going so far as to have the father and sister of Donald Trump appear in the middle of the film to reassert this message, which would seem too much, but James Gray really did go to the same school as the Trumps. The film is scatter shot, as usual for Gray, but there is definitely a certain power to it even if it isn't always fully cohesive. It doesn't make a simple morality tale, as even the central friendship, Gray shows you the real problems of it, just as he does the joys. Gray rather seems to make you want to feel his raw nerve, which he does.

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