Armageddon Time (2022)
Runner-Up for the Palme d'Or this year (pipped by Triangle of Sadness for the top spot), I really wanted this, at first glance, to be a Netflix political comedy drama, much like what they threw at us last year. But sadly, no. Yet still better with the benefit of hindsight. It would have been a waste on reflection, like a version Glass Onion when nobody dies.
And so, a drab Sunday lunchtime seems as good a time as any to give this the once over. High hopes, given the assembled talent, of course.
Whilst not too far removed from my own experiences of the time (Writer/Director James Gray was born just four months after me), except on the other side of the pond, this resonates much more than it otherwise might. I too remember fondly The Sugarhill Gang, even from the other side of the Atlantic, for example.
If we're being brutal, I don't recognise most of the experiences that Paul Graff goes through. My parents were very different too, to those featured here, the closest being Anne Hathaway as his mother Esther. "Wait until you father gets home" wasn't as common a threat in our household and even more rarely realised. Perhaps because I never gave them probable cause. My law-breaking was careful, much less nonchalant.
Additionally, I never talked to my parents the way that Paul speaks to his. It would never even have entered my imagination. Filled with what are probably intentional errors, this is one perspective of an immigrant family's story, based in a politically volatile time period when the shit nearly, but didn't quite, hit the fan for all of us.
The acting by the people you would recognise are rounded and authentic enough, if even a little cliched. The rest of the performances are disappointing, however. Ad Astra's script is a hint at what to expect here from Gray. Muted throughout, with occasional bursts of anger, relevancy and sentimentality, as if he's reading from Life 101's first draft.
Overlong and uneventful, this coming-of-age tale makes even my upbringing exciting by comparison, and that is suggesting alot.