Directed by: James Gray
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Tova Feldshu, John Deal, Banks Repeta, Jaylene Webb
Origin & Production: USA, Brazil / Anthony Katagas, Mark Bhutan, Rodrigo Teixeira, MadRiver Features, Keep Your Head Productions, RT Features
Duration: 115 minutes
A story about coming of age, the strength of a family, and generational pursuit of the American dream.
“I really want to do something opposite to the dark and lonely emptiness of the film that I just shot,” James Gray told Deadline in the summer of 2020. After Brad Pitt’s space trip in search of his father (Hell Astra), as well as the work of Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett (Lost City Z), Gray returns home with an apparently autobiographical story set in the eighties of his childhood in Queens.
Despite Michael Bay’s title, Time of Armageddon this is actually a New York movie, as it was Little Odessa, Yards, They own the night, Two lovers and Immigrant. Compared to them, Gray’s new work, which is entering the Cannes competition for the fifth time, is a more intimate film about interiors, which, however, works on topics that have always interested him, such as family relationships, as well as social and ethnic barriers. that define the structure of the city. In the background, the dawn of the Reagan presidency, we are in the middle of an election campaign, and at some point in the film, on a flickering color TV, we will see the former governor of California overthrow his opponent Jimmy. Carter. Paul (Banks Repeta) is a bright-eyed kid with red hair and a natural anti-authoritarian personality, perhaps because, as he tells everyone, he wants to be an artist when he grows up. When a caricature of a professor gets him into trouble, amid the indifference of his classmates, in a public school where the classes are too crowded, or when you go on a school trip to Manhattan to visit the Guggenheim Museum, no one will notice if you slip away on a subway full of graffiti, another class outcast, Johnny (Jailyn Webb), an African-American who lives with a poor and very ill grandmother intervenes on her behalf.
Gray makes good use of the opposing energies of the two children – serious, almost as serious as Johnny’s adult; while Paul’s head is full of big dreams, adventures and aspirations, which he cultivates with the complicity of his grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), who immigrated from Ukraine to escape Nazism (like the Gray family), despite his father (Jeremy Strong), electrician, tired and sometimes short. Hot-tempered, you find it hard to make ends meet at the end of the month.
Gray reflects the fading American Dream (a disappointment not unlike that of Marion Cotillard in Immigrant) between generations and Paul’s eyes. A boy starts acting in a movie about building rockets with his grandfather, telling Johnny that he has a very wealthy family that will pay for his school trip too, and that his mother (Anne Hathaway) is the president of the school, when in fact she is the head of the parent council .
But then he ends up discovering the racism that will forever separate him from his best friend, after his parents, at the cost of sacrifice, decide (as James Gray’s parents did) to send him to a private school where there are no African Americans and Jewish children like him, can hardly stand it.
The apocalypse in the film’s title is Reaganism, the beginning of the end. “The private school was a symbol of the white Protestant Martian ethic for a kid like me who came from the 1970s public school system. The specific theme of the film is this, but the meaning is wider. For me, it was the moment when the world was divided into the haves and the have-nots.”
Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan Poster