Every great movie has Ryan Gosling as its star. – Elijah Weaver
As the title suggests, First Man is a movie about a man, not an event. Spanning across eight years of Neil Armstrong’s life, the film maintains intense focus on Armstrong’s reactions and responses to the rollercoaster of a ride that NASA enrolled him in during the 1960s. Ryan Gosling’s take on Armstrong is somewhat disappointing, though. The cameras themselves rarely look away from Gosling’s face, attempting to catch every subtle change of demeanor or flick of his altering countenance. But Gosling seems more dispassionately distracted, rather than pensively engaged, the latter of which might have better represented the temperamental subtleties expected from someone involved in such demanding conditions. Claire Foy, who plays Neil’s wife Janet, steals the show, even with her relatively few appearances. Her portrayal of Janet complicates any sixties familial stereotypes by presenting a wife fiercely independent, while also being solemnly attentive to and aware of the gravity of her husband’s calling. Her support for Neil is obvious, though reluctant, if not at times plainly skeptical, a response expected from a partner without control over her spouse’s precarious occupation.
The film as a whole, with its scope focused deliberately on the human perspective, annunciates the first part of Armstrong’s perennial words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Damien Chazelle gets the job done, reminding the world that the events that history renders significant are always only the results of the small steps, the daily occurrences, and the emotional poignancies experienced by individual human beings. This is a movie about subjects, making for an intimate encounter by pulling the viewers in and allowing them to feel with Neil and Janet the tensions, the traumas, and the joys of what it must have been like to be pivotal agents in an event that would be deemed so monumental in the grand scope of humankind’s history.
Must See Now
Must See in Theaters
Must See, but You Can Wait
Don’t Watch This Movie
RATINGS AMONGST DAMIEN CHAZELLE’S OTHER FLICKS:
2) First Man
3)La La Land
OSCAR PREDICTIONS (NOMINATIONS, NOT WINS):
This will have a presence at the Oscars, for sure, making a splash with nominations, but likely only taking home a few wins.
(probably) Best Picture – First Man
(maybe) Best Director – Damien Chazelle
(probably) Best Actor – Ryan Gosling
(definitely) Best Supporting Actress – Claire Foy
With an array of technical/editing nominations, too.