Armageddon Time

Armageddon Time ★★★

gray has time and time again proved to have an exceptional understanding of classical melodrama and seeing him clumsily apply this skill to autobiographical memory is certainly of interest. its big writerly moments and performances frequently feel like they’re in search of a more conventional dramatic progression and shape than gray is willing to give it because these are memories poisoned with history, ideology and guilt. he deserves credit i think for not making the version of this about a kid who knew the right thing to do and stood up to the bad people and changed hearts and minds, etc, and instead a movie about the troubling mechanics and pressures of assimilation that (even if you truly desire to do those things) incentivize moral rot and failure in the name of economic success. it’s a worthwhile idea that gray ties to his stand-in paul with real specificity and lyricism… i just wish i could say the same about johnny who (in comparison at least) does come off weirdly and disappointingly generic, which i think some argue is inherent to how paul sees his world from a comfortable remove or distance and can't possibly inhabit it in the same way he does his own, but even if that was the point being made it’s nonetheless still a dramatic problem for the film and mutes some of the larger symbolic/emotional power it’s reaching for.

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