«Armageddon time», the rebellious boys of Hollywood aim for Palma- Corriere.it

from Paolo Mereghetti

“Armageddon Time” wants to go all the way. With the stars Hathaway and Hopkins

James Gray also found his Antoine Doinel. Same age. Same spirit obstinate and rebellious. Same anxiety about life. Then the parallels stop, but a cinephile like James Gray cannot fail to have thought of the young scam protagonist when he built his own Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), protagonist – with many autobiographical elements (here is another link with The 400 shots) – from Armageddon Timein competition on Thursday 19 May a Cannes.
We are in Queensin the 1980: Carter is president and Ronald Reagan the challenger. Meanwhile 11-year-old Paul he attends a public school where he immediately stands out for his indiscipline and exacerbation individualismfinding in the African American partner Johnny (Dupree Francois Porter) the same desire to transgression.

But even at home Paul has to fight with almost all of his petty-bourgeois Jewish family: his mother (Anne Hathaway) seems too fragile to withstand the tensions that erupt, the father (Jeremy Strong) feels his poor origins as a burden – he is the son of a plumber and a plumber himself – and would like his children (Paul has an older brother with whom he inevitably fights) to do the coveted leap of census right through the studies. Only with maternal grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), Paul has a true filial relationship: she talks to him, she trusts him and he listens to life lessons, as well as the story of how her family escaped from persecutions in Ukraine to get to the United States.

And just to take the coveted class jump (after yet another act of scholastic insubordination: a joint in the toilets with Johnny), Paul is changed of school and enrolled, thanks to tuition paid
from the grandfather, to the much more prestigious Forest Manor, where already from the uniform you can breathe another type of atmosphere. Not exactly the one dreamed of by little Graff who must immediately deal with the racism and it snobbery of his companions. And with that of the school’s most influential sponsor, Fred Trump (father of the future President Donald), a spokesperson of the competitive spirit and careerist that his wife (a cameo by Jessica Chastain) scans to the students gathered in the assembly.

So Paul, torn between theproletarian friendship with Johnny and theclass anxiety of the father, among the teachings of the grandfather and the contempt of the new companions, must choose not so much which side to take sides (because in his heart he has no doubts) as how to behave in order to get by as best as possible. Naturally ending up doing the wrong choice.

The structure of the film is that of a traditional one coming of agewhere the young protagonist between trial and error must learn to grow, but Gray (also author of the screenplay inspired directly by his adolescence) goes much further because it manages to convey that sense of unhappiness that comes fromimpotence or anger for one repressed vitality by too many rules. And so he prints the portrait of Paul in our memory, even more than the paternal outbursts he makes use of the belt. Of course the theme of the film is always that of “patricide” that the children would like or should accomplish, which returns from the first work Little Odessabut here as praised by the memory filter and a plus thoughtful awareness of their own limitsthe one that not even Antoine Doinel could find.

May 20, 2022 (change May 20, 2022 | 07:30)

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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