Armageddon Time

Armageddon Time ★★★★

ZFF 2022 #15

The story of Armageddon Time covers fewer than four months, but in it, Gray finds space to effectively chart America's long twentieth century, from its reluctant acceptance of pogrom refugees to the present day, created in the image of vapid showmen (Reagan), racist charlatans (Fred Trump), and a perfect storm of both (Donald Trump). It's a fascinating piece of autobiography because in spite of this sweeping thematic scope, its reach never exceeds its grasp: instead, it remains quiet, intimate, beautifully lived-in, and heart-wrenchingly specific throughout, the larger history an ever-present but consistently unobtrusive background noise. The whole exploration of the Jewish Graff family's uneasy relationship to their own conditional whiteness and how Paul has that brought home to him by way of his parents' and grandparents' racism (whilst shaking their heads at Reagan winning the presidency) is just one of the many rich conversations taking place inside the film, and I'm sure future rewatches will prove very rewarding.

It's probably not my favourite Gray, due in part to feeling almost too narratively muted at times (and I'm honestly at a loss as to whether Jeremy Strong's hyper-method performance works or not), but here's yet another piece of evidence for him being one of Hollywood's unsung finest.

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