Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle returns to the big screen to deliver First Man, an adaption of the official biography of Neil Armstrong written by James R. Hansen.
The film takes a more personal perspective into the Space Race starting out with the events that happened before the world-renowned Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Ryan Gosling plays a Neil Armstrong bearing with the conflict caused by personal tragedies and the uncertainty of space flight in an era where the US looked to gain air superiority over the Soviet Union.
Gosling’s portrayal of the first man on the moon comes across very similar to roles he has played in previous movies. For the most part, Armstrong is shown as a man who keep things to himself when dealing with hardship, adding a stoic element to his character.
In support, Claire Foy plays Janet Shearon who effectively delivers a solid performance that layers the personal conflict Armstrong has to deal with.
For a space drama, Chazelle achieves in making this movie more about what happened behind the scenes among the core individuals involved rather than just having the focal point be the moon landing.
First Man gives us an insight into the fears & concerns of space travel as well as the general reception towards the space program by the American general public in the 1960s.
Though at times the film seems like a slow burn, scenes where Gosling and his colleagues test equipment or embark on the Gemini 8 & Apollo 11 missions are the most intense.
The camera angles used by Chazzelle really compliments the intensity of flight tests and the missions. When in the space craft, tight angles and first-person perspective is used to take the audience into the actual scene.
Accompanied with this is a great use of VFX & SFX that not only amazes but scares the audience. The constant, loud rattling and shakey cam during the Gemini sequence is possibly one of the most unnerving experiences, making the rocket realistically look like a crammed metal death trap.
Overall, First Man is filled with emotion right up to the moon-landing sequence. The general tone is that of uncertainty with the topic of space travel.
The feeling of wonder is accompanied with feeling of sadness & a longing that is mirrored by the original soundtrack.
Justin Hurwitz does a spectacular job in complimenting the movie with a beautifully haunting soundtrack that uses the theremin.
First Man is worth a watch but require a lot of patience to get through. The emotional factor is worth its 2hr 20min runtime.
Rating – 7.5/10