Hold your breath…
Disclaimer #1: I was invited to attend a media screening of First Man in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% mine and mine alone.
Disclaimer #2: This post contains affiliate links. See my DISCLOSURE POLICY for more details.
I swear this was the pattern we maintained throughout the entire screening of Universal Pictures’ First Man, starring Ryan Gosling. My middle son and I attended a media screening of this film just days before its release and were both unexpectedly stunned. We went into this with varied expectation, but honestly walked away mesmerized and intrigued.
About the Movie
On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.
What captivated me the most about the film was its perspective. It didn’t blatantly promote space exploration or give it a political platform. However, it wasn’t an emotional tear jerker that over-emotionalized tragedy and struggle. It also didn’t delve too deeply into the psyche of the astronaut who first placed his footprint on the moon.
Instead, it delivered an almost perfect blend of science and intimacy, just scratching the surface of nearly everything that became a piece of this intelligent cinematic mosaic.
During his lifetime, Neil Armstrong was known by many to be a man of few words, though he was very deliberate in what he did say. He was not a braggart, nor was he one to gloat about his successes. Instead, he was more of a recluse and an introvert. He didn’t let too many people in and didn’t let many of his emotions reach the surface.
To me, the movie takes on the same personality traits. Each loss, each decision, each mission ~ we are only allowed to see these events and connections go so deep. We are never really allowed in to see Armstrong’s core thoughts or emotions.
Personally, I have always been a fan of Ryan Gosling ~ finding him very capable of mastering the authentic and quiet roles very well. While I would love to see him play a bit more of a boisterous character at some point, he was truly brilliant as Armstrong. Of course, that’s my humble opinion. He delivered a performance that drew us into the story and had us wanting more. We wanted to know his thoughts. We wanted to understand why he was the way he was. Instead, we were left inspired by a reluctant hero and unexpected genius.
The remaining cast did a stupendous job of their own, essentially carrying the emotional weight of the film. In particular, Claire Foy (who played Armstrong’s first wife, Janet) was undeniable as she bore the brunt of emotional struggle and loss for everyone. Each person associated with Armstrong and the events portrayed bore the burden of anger, fear, excitement and grief, not knowing how to respond when Armstrong’s reaction didn’t equate.
Would I Recommend This Film?
In a nutshell, yes. I would recommend taking the time to see First Man as it has the potential to be a contender in one form or another. However, I have to note that the film does require a devoted attention span. It demands its audience to follow carefully and patiently. There are moments of deafening silence and times where the audience may not be sure where the story is going. However, the pieces come together ever so clearly soon enough and the questions, answered or not, are at least satisfied with the end result.
It is not a movie I would recommend for young children. I don’t say this because the movie is packed with vulgarity or indecency. Quite the contrary, it was rather tame with perhaps only two of the bolder profanities (to my recollection). It simply takes a focused desire to follow the story-line and the ability to piece things together. It’s not a puzzle, but it is a journey that takes a man through his grief and literally out of this world into triumph.
All in All…
I found the film captivating, breathtaking and inspiring. It surprised me in a way that I didn’t expect, thinking I was going to hear a political platform blatantly promoting the space program. Instead, I had the opportunity to feel the struggle of a quiet, pensive man who endured and internalized so much loss, so much turmoil and yet pushed forward to leave one of the most poignant “footprints” in history.
FIRST MAN IS IN THEATERS 10/12/18
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