Title – First Man (2018)
Director – Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Cast – Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Pablo Schreiber, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Christopher Abbott, Corey Stoll
Plot – The true story of Neil Armstrong (Gosling) and the journey that lead him to be the first man to ever set foot on the Moon.
“We need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there”
Review by Eddie on 15/10/2018
Disclaimer – This review is based on the IMAX version of First Man
His only 33 years of age but there’s now further proof that Oscar winning director Damien Chazelle is one of the most competent, original and talented filmmaker’s working today.
Chazelle’s third feature film First Man is a visually stunning, emotionally powerful and genuinely unique biopic, that coming hot off the heels of box office sensation La La Land and critical darling Whiplash, proves the director’s skill as a visionary, a game breaker and a wonderful storyteller.
Using the true life tale of renowned astronaut Neil Armstrong and America’s quest to be the first nation to successfully explore the moon, Chazelle does what many would never have expected from a bio about such a pivotal moment and makes a film that’s both humanly intimate and emotionally grand, as he turns his attention to the little things as well as the big, that in turn make First Man a more enthralling and white knuckle experience because of it.
Not to be found here is any American grandstanding, no Oscar baiting speeches and no bio by the numbers plotlines as Chazelle instead brings us into the cockpit, the visor and home life of Armstrong that strips back the grand tale to something just as powerful as we become a fly on the wall of Armstrong’s life and death defying missions.
It’s not to say there’s not cinematic flourishes here as First Man features some of the year’s most exciting and breathtaking feats of cinema delivered through a heart racing opening, a hold your breath docking test in the heart of space and of course the intense and captivating Apollo mission, all of which showcase Chazelle’s abundant ability that works wonders alongside Linus Sandgren’s virtuoso yet often gritty cinematography and regular Chazelle collaborator and composer Justin Hurwitz, who crafts a haunting and awards worthy score to compliment what’s occurring on screen.
Seeing these scenes on a large scale format such as IMAX or a sound-rich environment is a pure cinematic treat and by the time Chazelle arrives at the moon and the audience sits in silence, immersed and captivated by the gravitas and artistic brilliance on display, you understand that what you’re apart of as an audience member is one of those rare movie going experiences that becomes something more than just entertainment, this is something truly special and an experience you won’t soon forget.
With no much craft and technical mastery it could be argued that many of the performances in the film feel like more nice additions than anything truly of note but the stoic presence of Gosling as Armstrong and the fine support of Claire Foy as Armstrong’s faithful wife Janet are exactly what the film needed, with both performers operating at the top of their game, complimenting everything else perfectly to ensure First Man’s overall accomplishments are all-round.
Final Say –
Some may be disappointed to find out that a film about Armstrong and the moon landing is a more intimate affair but seeing First Man on the biggest screen available is a transformative cinematic experience, as Chazelle’s stunning cinematic spectacle is a grand and unforgettable example of movie magic.
5 bracelets out of 5