By Eric Neuhoff
In this film in competition at Cannes last year, the filmmaker resuscitates, with emotion, the New York of his childhood. Armageddon Timenot to be missed, this Tuesday, May 23 at 9:10 p.m. on Canal +.
There is atmosphere at the Graff family dinners. Everyone speaks at the same time. It was the 1980s in Queens. Paul was entering sixth grade. On the first day, he draws a caricature of his teacher which earns him to be sent to the picket line. The redhead will soon be joined by Johnny, who repeats and is the only black child in the cl. These two become inseparable. The little Jew of Ukrainian origin dreams of being an artist. The African-American would like to work for NASA. On television, Reagan, campaigning, wields Armageddon. The disco breathes its last sighs. Soon, you will have to listen to Rapper’s Delight. Johnny, who lives with his sick grandmother, sleeps secretly in his boyfriend’s garden.
Radiance of romance
What an idea to smoke a joint in the high school bathroom. Of course, simpletons get caught. Paul is sent to a private establishment, more or less financed by the Trump clan. Donald’s sister (Jessica Chastain) rants about individualism. The new one discovers the navy blue blazers, the ties, the contempt of the elite (“You were at school with blacks!”). Johnny, he remains on the sidelines. James Gray, which looks back on his childhood, evokes the (not always) underlying racism, social differences, these codes that the hero is quick to learn, which does not make him proud. It’s a beautiful film, autumnal, velvety, with a vintage VHS grain. The director restores the past with a meticulousness, a humor, an intelligence à la Philip Roth. The camera whispers.
Nostalgia bursts onto the screen
The romantic, the nostalgia burst on the screen. New York, yes, was like that. We will never see him like this again. Is this what it is to be an adult, to see your illusions melt like snow in the sun, not to get out of the car at the funeral of a beloved grandfather? Anthony Hopkins plays the role of the grandfather, dispensing to his son a hard-won wisdom. A scene touches the heart: the one where he gives the kid a rocket. In a vacant lot in Flushing Meadows, the old man in an overcoat and the red-haired boy watch the craft take off into the sky and slowly fall back. There is also the plumber father, weak as anything, who delivers the moral of the story: “Life is unfair. Anne Hathaway manages as a mother trying to make ends meet. The two young actors steal the show, as if they were discovering both existence and the cinema. They steal a computer, unknowingly imitating Antoine Doinel with a typewriter. With Armageddon Time, James Gray pulled off a tail of Four Hundred Blows and Goodbye Children. He is a New Wave on his own.