Claire FoyJason Clarke...
Action & AdventureDrama
In 1 Cinema
There is a reason the phrase “based on a true story” is interesting when it pops up at the beginning of a film; the mere fact that these could have been (in this case actually were) real people justifiably amplifies the interest of many. First Man takes one of the most well-known stories and tells it through life’s tiniest details. Whether through an outburst of a worried wife or a two-year-old’s bracelet, First Man captures life through such details.
First Man follows the life of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), the first man to walk on the moon, from before he joined NASA until successfully landing on the moon. The film focuses on the road to the moon landing with all the sacrifices Armstrong, his family, and other astronauts had to go through, the repeated failures along the way, and the sheer pressure of it all.
We know what’s going to happen, he’ll land on the moon, so what’s the point?
Even though the audience knows the end, the filmmakers manage to deeply captivate the audience; so much so, in fact, that we are invested in every challenge and step of the film. It is as if we have no clue what is going to happen towards the end.
The main part of that achievement is the way the film was shot with multiple extreme close-ups of Armstrong in the rocket, the violent shaking he went through, and the compartment he had to sit in. These were among the aspects that showed Armstrong’s struggle, and that had a huge effect on the audience.
First Man used such aspects as mood-setting through simulation of the rocket rides and in turn, kept dialogue and effusive material to a minimum. The film remained as authentic as possible, did not add drama for effect, and cut out all unnecessary parts of the film that would dwell on emotion. Despite all of that, the film was very evoking of sympathy, fear, worry, and even joy at times; this speaks volumes for the quality of work that the filmmakers did.
From the get-go the film has the audience stressed out with a failed test that Armstrong is attempting, the death of his 2-year-old daughter Karen, and the constant deaths of astronauts attempting the moon landing, First Man effortlessly and authentically evokes emotion out of the audience almost entirely throughout the 140-minute film.
There are so many angles to the moon landing, so many of which have been covered in previous films, but First Man’s true achievement is not digressing into what should be included in the film, but rather focusing on what needs to be included to serve the film’s focus.
As for the acting, Ryan Gosling delivers a powerful but understated performance, keeping his emotions in check, just as Armstrong was meant to be depicted, but also conveying so much through his mere gaze. The scarce use of dialogue is a major testament to Gosling’s performance as well as the performance of Claire Foy (who played his wife). Foy’s looks spoke the lines that were never written and evoked more emotion and interest from the audience than could ever have been evoked with elaborate dialogue.
First Man will probably make you tear up, bite your nails, and even get dizzy. If you think you are up for that and have a bit over 2 hours to spare, then definitely go for it.