By Matt Donnelly
Senior Film Writer
Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong made the end of the world seem pretty fabulous on Thursday night, hitting the Croisette for the Cannes Film Festival premiere of writer-director James Gray’s “Armageddon Time.”
Gray’s semi-autobiographical film about growing up in 1980s Queens stars newcomers Banks Repeta (as the Gray surrogate) and Jaylin Webb (as his best friend). Hathaway and Strong play solid a Jewish couple with dreams of upward mobility. They struggle to understand Repeta, a sixth grader grappling with his identity and adhering to authority. His relationship with his ailing grandfather Anthony Hopkins, who effectively stirred audience emotions, provides an overwhelming window into the Jewish diaspora and hope for a future of his own.
Following an emotional seven-minute standing ovation, one that saw Hathaway and Gray break into tears, the director explained the film was finished last Saturday “in a total panic.”
“I’m deeply emotional,” Gray said with wet eyes, “It’s my story, in a way, and you guys shared it with me.”
Gray concluded that he had been to Cannes five times now, and hoped to return one day as the festival is “the palace of cinema, the church of cinema.”
Hathaway wowed on the red carpet of the Palais ahead of the screening, rocking a fitted white dress with a long train and a sizable sapphire and ruby necklace from Chopard. Her cast and filmmakers joined her, sans Hopkins.
Filmgoers were surprised by a small role in the film for Jessica Chastain, who played Donald Trump’s sister in a part that was earlier set to star Cate Blanchett.