Streaming on Netflix
First Man may seem quite the departure from Damien Chazelle‘s other films, but if you look closer, you’ll realize that they all have one thing in common. All his films are about those who are driven to accomplish something, and the only thing that’s different about this one is that it actually happened and it’s all the more powerful for it.
Neil Armstrong is a name taught in schools around the world. He was the first man to land on the moon and we’ve all heard his first words there. But what is forgotten, or at least not as well remembered, is how hard it was to get there. First Man will remind you of just that by showing everything it took to be the first to the moon. It is an incredibly personal story of a man who rose above the losses in his life and managed to go somewhere where no man had gone before.
A look at what it takes to shoot for the moon and return.
Ryan Gosling has captured the stoic grace of a man who when told that he was going to be leading the first mission to the moon, simply said, “Okay”. The portrayal of Neil Armstrong in the hands of a lesser actor wouldn’t have worked. Gosling knows how to show emotions through subtle expressions which is exactly what this role needs. It’s a quiet subdued performance that is impactful in its own.
Claire Foy is in her element as she plays a caring mother and a supportive wife as Janet Armstrong. She is the pillar that keeps the family together through all the hard times they face. The moments where we see her waiting for Neil while with her children are some of the most emotional ones. We only get to see a little of the rest of the cast, but although they make fleeting appearances, they leave a lasting impression.
A rewarding experience!
Chazelle’s long-time music collaborator, Justin Hurwitz knows how to craft a haunting melody with an ethereal feel with a theremin-based score. But what’s also done well is the outstanding use of silence.
The script by Josh Singer marvelously retains the tension and there are several shocking moments in there, even for those who may know what had gone down before the Apollo mission. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren (who also did La La Land) is stellar. Being an astronaut can be a terrifying experience and the film puts you right beside one. You are immersed inside the hunk of metal hurtling away from the earth, which feels like it could fall apart at any moment. But when it all goes right as you know it will, you eventually get to see an incredibly realistic view of what the first men on the moon must have seen.
The most rewarding moment comes when First Man shows you the pale blue dot against the blackness of space from the surface of the moon. It was a miraculous moment, and the whole world celebrated it. The exuberant finish of will leave you on a high note. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle has managed to craft a thing of cosmic beauty that will forever be a joy to behold.
WATCH OR NOT:
Going into space changes your perspective. Great space movies do the same and First Man is not just great, it’s phenomenal. It’s more than a film, First Man is an experience, especially for the ones who dreamed of being astronauts as children. If you’re still looking for more reasons to watch the film, know that it’s being hailed as one of the best films of the year and it deserves a watch, if only because it may be getting multiple Oscar nominations.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Josh Singer, James R. Hansen
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke
Streaming on: Netflix