First Glance: “Armageddon Time”

Currently making its rounds across the festival circuit, “Armageddon Time” is the upcoming period drama from writer-director James Gray. It’s a coming-of-age movie inspired by Gray’s own childhood in Queens during the 1980s. A stellar cast is attached including Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, and Anthony Hopkins. As an autobiographical piece, this is clearly close to the filmmaker’s heart. But the new trailer is hard to read. In one sense the film looks captivating. It also comes across as heavy-handed which I hope isn’t the case for the film itself.

The trailer introduces us to two classmates, Paul (Banks Repeta) who is white and Johnny (Jaylin Webb) who is black. They develop a close friendship based on mutual interests. But racism soon surfaces as various people, including some within Paul’s own family, warn the boy to stay away from his friend. Will Paul stay quiet or stand up against the heartbreaking bigotry? Gray looks to be following in the footsteps of Cuaron’s “Roma” and Branagh’s “Belfast”. But how will his film hold up against those two Oscar winners? Will it be too on-the-nose? We shall see.

“Armageddon Time” hits theaters October 28th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

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