REVIEW: First Man is an understated but moving film with an exceptional performance from Claire Foy
PUBLISHED: 09:26 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:42 19 November 2018
Ryan Gosling reteams with Oscar winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle to tell the story behind NASA's 1969 mission to land a man on the moon.
Ryan Gosling reteams with Oscar winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle to tell the story behind NASA’s 1969 mission to land a man on the moon.
Based on the biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the film focuses on his life from 1961 onwards, leading up to his eventual moon landing.
It’s a celebrated story, but little is known about Armstrong himself and this film goes a long way to shedding light on a man who was to go down in history.
Gosling stars in the lead role and plays Armstrong as a buttoned up and intensely private man. Someone, who after a painful family bereavement, outwardly suppresses his emotions in order to focus wholeheartedly on his work with NASA.
Gosling shares many intimate family scenes with Claire Foy who plays his wife Janet. Watching the pair battle to come to terms with their loss and deal with the dangerous nature of Neil’s job is at times heartbreaking.
Foy is excellent as the supportive wife, trying to bring up their two boys, while coping with the worry that her husband may not return from space.
A scene where she confronts Armstrong and demands he sit down and explain that fact to their young sons is one of the film’s real stand out moments.
Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler add yet more weight to an already eye catching cast.
As events move towards the skies, Chazelle ramps up the tension.
The sequences aboard the Apollo rocket are nerve-wracking and edge of seat tense, as Armstrong and his fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin (Cory Stoll) and Mike Collins (Lukas Haas) rattle and creak their way towards the stars, aboard the now quite primitive spacecraft.
Gosling’s stilted performance may not win over everyone and the film’s deliberately slow pace will definitely disappoint fans expecting an exciting space adventure. However, this is an undeniably well crafted film by a thoroughly accomplished film maker. The famous “One small step for man” speech that marks the film’s conclusion is dealt with in a truly touching way and will leave many viewers wiping away tears.
Anchored by an exceptional performance from Claire Foy, First Man is an understated but moving film that will almost certainly be in voter’s thoughts come awards season.