Every other performance across the board is fantastic. Paul’s family is filled with award-winning actors, including parents Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong and grandfather Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is a standout (I’m pretty sure he’s never truly phoned in a performance in his life, and even when he does, he’s the most dynamic part of the film), so it makes sense that Paul’s relationship with his grandfather is special and crucial to the story. If you’re going to make a therapeutic film about your upbringing, you might as well fill it with some of the best actors working today.
Most importantly, Armageddon Time speaks to the concept of privilege in a familiar, but effective way. Within the grounded generational family drama is a heartbreaking story about being thankful for what you have and what happens to you (despite how it may seem at the time), truthful to the experience of having a traumatizing adolescence but ultimately still being the lucky one. It’s a hard lesson, and one that a young boy is in no way equipped to learn, but definitely one that is best to learn earlier rather than later.
I see Armageddon Time as a singular chapter of a visual memoir, a fictionalized look at a semi-unique upbringing at a time when literal “armageddon” was on a lot of people’s minds. That sheer terror is not something a child could necessarily wrap their head around, so we’re left with the politics and fear as a backdrop while we find ourselves concerned with problems a ten-year-old considers to be the worst of the worst. This is topped off by short-lived fantasy sequences that only a ten-year-old could imagine, a style used sparingly but effectively.
Armageddon Time is playing now in select theaters, before a nationwide release on November 4.