MOVIE REVIEWBy Kaylee Brewster
“First Man” is a thrilling historical narrative that focuses on the man behind America’s mission to the moon, and just like the feat it portrays it is a success on all counts.
The film follows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) as he becomes the first man to walk on the moon. It’s a well-known story, of course, but it’s never been seen like this.
“First Man” takes a more personal approach. It shows Armstrong’s family life with his wife Janet (Claire Foy). It shows his friendships with the other astronauts and the losses he experiences when missions fail. It makes it that much more meaningful when the final mission takes off.
The emotional journey of the characters shows in the cinematography that uses close ups of actor’s faces. This creates a stronger focus on the character’s feeling so the audience can get a stronger sense of what is at stake and become more invested in the people.
Gosling shows Armstrong’s every determination. He has a clear focus of his goal but also trusts his instincts. His character is calm and direct, even when dealing with his children as he explains that the mission might cost him his life. Gosling portrays Armstrong’s spectrum of feelings, even when he tries to hide it.
Foy matches Goslings performance beat by beat. Jan is supportive of her husband but also stands her ground when she thinks he’s taken things too far. Being surrounded by families who have lost loved one makes her realize what she might lose, and she prepares herself and her family for the reality that her husband might not come home.
The only downside to the film is that you know from history what happens. But the filming of the mission’s big moment still maintains its intensity. The first-person camera angles make it feel like you, the audience, are there at the moon landing.
Damien Chazelle, who in 2016 directed “La La Land” proves here, that much like Steven Spielberg (who was an executive producer on this film), he can tackle any subject.
“First Man” is captivating because of Goslings and Foy’s performances. It creates a moving moon landing so that even if you know the story you’ve never see it like this.