One of the biggest events in the history of the world becomes a deeply personal experience in, Oscar-winning director, Damien Chazelle’s biopic – First Man. Starring Ryan Gosling as Astronaut Neil Armstrong, this film is based on the book by James R. Hansen, which chronicles Armstrong’s life from 1961 until the moon landing in 1969. To say this film is out of this world would be a punny understatement.
A few things that I realized after watching this film was that 1. Ryan Gosling is a SERIOUS actor. He’s done the rom-com’s and the musicals but give that man a dramatic script and he always delivers. 2. I would never want to go to space. 3. I need to crack open a history book.
First of all, the acting in First Man delivers. Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s wife and gives an incredible performance, which is no surprise considering her numerous award nominations and wins for her role as the Queen on The Crown. Like I said, Gosling nailed it as well, giving a moving, stoic performance. I predict a nomination for Best Actor in his near future.
The cinematography in this film is also some of the best I’ve seen this year. The overall filter of the film feels like you are watching a movie that was made in the 1960’s. Another artistic element that is hard not to notice is the close-ups. Every shot almost feels intrusive. You feel for these people in a way that is very personal, taking you out of your theater chair and putting you into their shoes.
This ideal was actually brilliant because it almost makes you forget what you already know will happen – Will they make it to the moon? I found myself holding my breath and feeling relief after Armstrong takes his first step, quoting the famous line:
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The silence in this film spoke volumes. In several scenes, Chazelle chose to cut the sound, making the visuals much more powerful and thought-provoking. This year, the trend of basking in the absence of sound in film has been my absolute favorite thing.
Overall, First Man is incredibly well-done and tells the story we all (should) know in an emotional, human way. This film is now play in theaters everywhere.