First Man (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Personal

First Man

 

Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in 'First Man'.

 

"First Man is a fitting tribute to what Armstrong and his peers accomplished. Their achievements nearly 60 years ago have stirred the imaginations of all the generations who have followed. For it is in reaching beyond our world that we learn even more about ourselves."

Ryan Gosling and director Damien Chazelle continue their collaboration that began with La La Land in 2016. This time rather than shooting for the stars in Hollywood they chart a course to the moon in First Man.

Gosling plays the iconic Neil Armstrong and the film chronicles the historic eight year process of sending man to the Moon. The film spends as much time in space as it does on the ground to reveal the reveal the emotional impact this journey has on the home front. Gosling is paired with Claire Foy (The Crown, The Girl in the Spider’s Web) who plays his wife, Janet Armstrong, on this emotional trip.

Chazelle does a remarkable job recreating the look and feel of the Sixties. Like his work on La La Land, the director presents a love letter to a bygone era that extends to even the colour and grain of the film. His choice of camera angles and the authenticity of the production design makes you experience the incredible flights as if you were right beside Armstrong. This serves to highlight the extraordinary bravery, ingenuity and sacrifice that it took to achieve the lunar landing. 

Surprisingly, First Man weaves a very personal story of grief and human frailty in the midst of documenting the grandiose achievements of the space program. The story opens with the tragic loss of Armstrong’s young daughter and this grief haunts Neil throughout the film.

Without the ability to express his feelings, Neil channels these emotions into a reckless commitment to the space race. It is the expert weaving of this emotional journey internally with such an epic voyage externally that elevates First Man from a mere documentary into a poignant tale of what it means to be human. Armstrong had to travel further then any man to come back to the family that was always right beside him. 

First Man is a fitting tribute to what Armstrong and his peers accomplished. Their achievements nearly 60 years ago have stirred the imaginations of all the generations who have followed. For it is in reaching beyond our world that we learn even more about ourselves.