First Man, the story of Neil Armstrong’s mission to the moon, somehow feels grand and epic, but also intimate at the same time. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy give amazing performances. Gosling (as Neil Armstrong) is very reserved, and calm. When he does have moments of emotion, they are still quiet and restrained, but that’s when I really appreciate his genius. It’s easy to play big, playing small is harder. Claire Foy (as Janet Armstrong) is amazing here. Foy is having to play the emotional scenes a little more open, and the two of them have great chemistry together.
The space flight sequences are kept mainly inside the cockpits, and I really liked this. The film is mainly told from Armstrong’s perspective, and by staying inside the space capsule with him, director Damien Chazelle is almost literally putting us in that seat. When it does go outside, the cinematography is stunning. The score is also fantastic, feeling eerie, and other worldly.
If I found one problem, it’s that the tension is sometimes almost immediately dispelled when the following scenes jump forward years in time, but that’s the story they’re telling. Unfortunately the movie loses momentum at times, but I don’t know how that could have been avoided.
All in all I found this to be a fantastic film, and I plan to see it again on the big screen. Damien Chazelle is absolutely one of my favorite contemporary film directors, and he’s once again created something I found very enthralling, and yet completely unlike his previous films. Gosling and Foy are fantastic, and I have little doubt this film will get a lot of attention during award season. I recommend seeing this on a big screen.