RELEASED: 12th October 2018
DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle
CAST: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Shea Whigham, Christopher Abbott, Brain d’Arcy James, Pablo Schreiber, Patrick Fugit, Corey Michael Smith, Skyler Bible, Lukas Haas, J.D Evermore and Ciarán Hinds
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $105.6m
AWARDS: 1 Academy Award (Best Visual Effects) and 1 Golden Globe (Best Original Score)
First Man is a biopic focusing on the life of American astronaut Neil Armstrong during the 1960’s, exploring the sacrifices he and NASA make in order to embark on one of the most dangerous missions in the history of space exploration.
The third feature film from Damien Chazelle and arguably his most poignant, First Man primarily focuses on not just the story of Neil Armstrong and the journey it took to get from planning of launching to the Moon to the actual Moon landing, but it’s also the deeper story of how one buries their grief and wrapped himself up at the work/task at hand as his coping mechanism. It’s a stoic but really good performance from Ryan Gosling in the role of Neil Armstrong, particularly as the more tragedy strikes the program, the more reserved he becomes than usual, especially when it comes to sitting down with his sons before he goes into space like he would a reporter, as if it’s a automatic switch that comes on in his head that drills these mundane answers as he’s been doing it for so long that he isn’t allowed to emote. It could also be argued, after the opening of his daughters funeral and crying alone, that he had to go all the way to the Moon to get over a tragedy that no one should have to go through. While the story works on a human element, it’s treatment of space travel was more refreshing than being a cinematic adventure. It treats it like it was the more terrifying experience of watching pioneers risking their lives being shot out space from tin cans, with the sound design massively effective in creating the tension with the sound of screeching nuts and bolts and metal as they take off. There’s some really effective scenes in the film, from the Gemini 8 roll, to the Apollo 1 fire, to the actual Moon landing, with some lovely cinematography work by Linus Sandgren, with the score from Justin Hurwitz is absolutely fantastic as well. While it may be my least favourite of the Chazelle films, it’s still an engaging drama piece and he’s building quite the filmography already. Claire Foy provides the empathy with her performance as Neil’s wife Janet and the rest of the ensemble is solid as well, including Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler and Corey Stoll.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Armstrong and Scott launch on Gemini 8 and dock with the Agena target vehicle. All’s going to plan until soon afterward they begin to roll at a rapid rate. Believing it’s the Agena target vehicle they detach, but keep rolling. It’s the Gemini 8. The scene is chaotic, claustrophobic and intense as hell.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Pat doesn’t have a husband. Those kids, they don’t have a father anymore. Do you understand what that means? What are the chances that’s going to be Ricky and Mark? And I can’t tell them that their dad spent the last few minutes packing his briefcase! You’re gonna sit them down. Both of them. And you’re going to prepare them for the fact that you might not ever come home. You’re doing that. You. Not me. I’m done.” – Janet Armstrong
DID YOU KNOW: Mark Armstrong and Rick Armstrong said that First Man was the most accurate portrayal of their father Neil Armstrong and their mother Janet Armstrong.