On July 21, 1969, some 49 years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This historic moment came after years of training, the loss of his daughter, and the deaths of multiple astronauts who all attributed to the Apollo 11 mission.
This is the basis of Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” his latest directorial effort that chronicles the life of Neil Armstrong as he woRked his way towards his famous mission, as well as all of those who helped get him there.
Similar to Chazelle’s “La La Land,” this Gosling-fronted picture is what some would call a “classic American film.” It embodies every single characteristic that made ’50s and ’60s American films so interesting, while also simultaneously introducing modern film-making techniques to the mix.
From the absolutely breathtaking opening, to the emotionally-charged ending, the film never lets up on hitting all the emotions. We get to see Armstrong’s charisma and character, so we feel for him as he faces the various hardships throughout his life.
This, combined with the absolutely incredible direction and sound effects create an atmosphere that is absolutely unparalleled in films with similar subject matter. From the claustrophobic sequences in the Apollo, to the roar of Gemini’s engine, the film transports you to the world of these astronauts, and how anxiety-inducing these missions really were.
But while the scenes revolving around the actual missions are great, so are the basic human interaction points. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy have incredible chemistry, and it shows. The scenes following their marriage, and more specifically how Neil’s job affects Janet’s life were incredible, and made the film feel more grounded in reality.
For all of its strengths, there are some weaknesses. During the end of the second act, I began to feel the pacing drag. While this film isn’t exactly fast paced by any means, the second act in particular had some sequences where scenes felt disoriented, and didn’t fit well together. I also found some of the characters to be one dimensional, especially during the halfway point where they are used as plot devices.
Nevertheless, I do believe that “First Man” is an incredibly well directed film, that transports its audience to a time where the “space race” was of utmost importance to the US. I can see the Oscar buzz already.
“First Man” is scheduled to open in theaters Oct. 12.