The adage that the most universal stories are also the most intimate is made reference to by Jeremy Strong.That certainly holds true for Armageddon Time, the semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama directed by James Gray about growing up in a Jewish-American family in Queens, New York, in the early 1980s, dealing with privilege, religion, race, and getting into a lot of trouble.
“I think the truth is, for all of our differences, there is something that speaks across those differences and speaks across those divisions,” the Succession star says in an interview with co-star Anne Hathaway.Irving and Esther Graff are played by the actors. Their son Paul, played by Banks Repeta, acts out against them and his teachers, and he gets into especially hot water when he and a classmate, played by Jaylin Webb, are caught smoking weed at school.
“So James, having the willingness and courage to go deeply and take a real moral inventory of his own life, his own failings, and the things he struggled with in his family, I found many things I could relate to in what he had written,” I said. “I found many things in his writing that I could relate to.”
When Armageddon Time debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Hathaway witnessed the film’s universal appeal.
“This is a film about a family in a hyper-specific location in a hyper-specific time, [so] I was curious] how it could possibly speak to a French audience with international leanings?”The realization that the audience completely understood was the shock.This particular movie deals with a number of universal themes.Love and violence are intertwined in this household.It is extremely uncommon for a work of art or a filmmaker to wish to investigate that aspect of their own identity.
Hathaway says that Paul is brutally beaten by his father with a belt in a bathtub during a brutal scene.Even though “belting” was common at the time, it made it harder for Strong and Hathaway, who are both parents, to capture the scene.
Strong asserts, “As you would imagine, that was a really difficult day.”aware that we were collaborating with a child actor, who, by the way, was very cooperative and committed to the project at hand and the story it told.But also the increased sensitivity to the fact that our director was watching it on a monitor while we were reenacting the trauma that had been dealt to him.
As a result, making a personal film was a very personal experience.From the few times I’ve seen it, I find James’s approach to this film to be very honest, which makes it very powerful.