Armageddon Time is a powerful film set during a time of discrimination and racism. The film features domineering parents, which adds to its seriousness. It doesn’t necessarily focus so much on racism as it does on where families fall in terms of low, middle, or upper class.
Armageddon Time takes place in New York City in 1980. The film focuses on the Graff family, including Irving Graff (played by Jeremy Strong), Esther Graff (played by Anne Hathaway), and their son Paul Graff (played by Banks Repeta). There is also Grandpa Aaron Rabinowitz (played by Anthony Hopkins). Paul is close to his grandpa, but he struggles with meeting the expectations of his parents.
Paul has a friend, Johnny Davis (played by Jaylin Webb), who is Black. Johnny gets lots of negative attention and he gets blamed for many minor issues because of his race, which only causes him to be more vocal and angrier. Paul makes some bad choices with Johnny, and after the two friends get in trouble with drugs Paul’s parents send him to private school, which separates Paul from Johnny. But they continue to be friends in secret.
Paul and Johnny both have aspirations. Paul wants to become an artist and Johnny dreams of working for NASA. But they both feel they are limited in their ability to achieve these goals because they don’t have the support they need to develop their interests.
Paul you has a strong connection to his grandpa in Armageddon Time, and there are numerous heartwarming moments between them in the film. Hopkins plays a grandpa who is wise and supportive, and he always has Paul’s back. Paul vents to his grandpa about how he feels segregated from Johnny, and his grandpa reminds him to not let bad influences get him down. He wants Paul to have the best life he can have, and he doesn’t want racism or segregation to keep Paul from being happy.
Strong and Hathaway’s roles as strict parents hit close to home for me. I was someone who also had issues with schooling. From my experience I realized that Paul’s problem was how he thought he needed to act around kids in his social class. I could relate to that because in my younger days I felt limited towards who I could socialize with, although I wasn’t necessarily shy as a young man.
Armageddon Time is an enticing look at a challenging time for our country and its school systems. Paul and Johnny are treated differently due to their different backgrounds, which was a function of the times. But all they really want to do is just be friends. It’s hard, but it just meant that they would need to learn to navigate the dynamics of their homes, schools and parents better, and they didn’t let the difficulty stop them from being friends. Three stars for Armageddon Time.