Review: In the wrenching ‘Armageddon Time,’ a filmmaker powerfully confronts his own privilege, the political dangers that beset America, and our own complicity in the looming catastrophe.
It begins with two young girls of color talking about their friend who has recently died from a drug overdose. Their father is in a police interrogation room, but he can’t get out of it: “I told you to hold my hand,” he cries out, and is arrested and taken to jail.
The filmmakers of In the Wake of Love, Jennifer Kitzmiller’s searing debut feature, are from the South, and not just, at first glance, because in its focus on two black sisters living in a white suburb, they’re not going to be playing up stereotypes of Southerners—for whom “southern hospitality” is a code for “give us things.” Still, Kitzmiller is not making a traditional Southern film; she is not a regional storyteller trying to tell a story about her own region and its people, but a filmmaker trying to open up the world to her own region.
The film’s story takes place not in South Los Angeles but in its suburbs, where Kitzmiller has made a series of films over the past three years, including Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2002), a searing adaptation of the book of the same name that earned her a Sundance special jury prize; In The Wake of Love (2008), a darkly comic look at the strained friendship between a couple that finds them locked in a cycle of violence; and The Long Night of the Soul (2011), which, as its title states, was a documentary that made the rounds of many film festivals and screened at the Sundance film festival. In the Wake of Love is Kitzmiller’s long-awaited follow-up to In the Wake of Love, and the film’s plot is as complex as its characters and as complex as the world she’s depicting.
Kitzmiller’s story begins at a time when the very foundations of the film industry are crumbling. The film industry is a complex beast: there are a thousand movies that