|Via The Ithacan|
First Man shoots for the moon and succeeds, albeit not as exciting as I thought it would be.
From the director of Whiplash and La La Land, comes a biopic of the first moon landing and a character study of the great American hero, Neil Armstrong (although he probably didn’t see it that way). Ryan Gosling stars as Armstrong, with Claire Foy playing his wife and Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, with Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler also playing vital roles.
Ryan Gosling is my favorite actor working today, and having seen many of his movies, I can say the role of Neil Armstrong is perfect for him. Armstrong in real life was a reserved and stoic person and Gosling has been able to perfect those kinds of characters before – the two come together excellently. Gosling is able to say so much with so few words, with moments of privacy for Armstrong being the most powerful in the movie. It is one thing to be able to play an exaggerated character or very emotional one, but it is a whole nother thing when you play a character that is reserved which you have to prevent being dull; there is a fine line you teeter on, but Gosling knows what he is doing. Gosling brings that “make sure the mission is successful above all else” attitude to Armstrong, and authentically portrays him. There is no other way to play Armstrong other than the way Gosling played him, so complaints of his lack of emotion make no sense to me.
Claire Foy plays Janet Armstrong and does an intense job with her as well. Mrs. Armstrong was a mother and wife first, and Foy plays the role with that mentality; we watch as she tries to hold back her fears over her husband’s life while raising her two sons. One scene in particular she caught my attention in was before Neil left to prepare for the moon mission, where she forces him to sit with his sons and tell them he may not be coming back; Foy understands the role she is in and does everything so well.
First Man is a wonderfully shot movie – from the grainier shots that give the film the feeling of happening in the 60s, to the shaking intensity of shots within different spacecrafts launching. The film’s cinematography puts you straight into the story and the scene of Neil and Buzz being on the moon is worth the wait – some of the best shots I’ve seen all year.
The primary issue I had with the film was with its pacing. First Man makes you feel its length and is not a quick movie by any stretch of the imagination; there is a lot you have to get through to get to the moon landing, and some of it could’ve been cut out. There is also a lack of Buzz Aldrin in the film, for better or for worse.
First Man begs the question, at what cost was it worth it we reach the moon? The film also gives heavy insight on one of America’s most significant historical figures. First Man provides a fresh and detailed approach to the story we have read in the textbooks, whilst remaining objective – it is up to you whether or not it was worth it. First Man didn’t blow me away the way I thought it could, but it still is worth your time. 8/10