His [Chazelle’s] take on Neil Armstrong’s voyage was never going to be a middle-of-the-road affair: Instead he crafted a masterfully staged re-creation of the space program with utterly compelling physical detail and layers of cinematic immersion that command credence and ensure that the radical and intensively subjective nature of Chazelle’s point-of-view comes as a gradually unveiled shock.
Ryan Gosling’s Armstrong may be frustratingly taciturn, and he may hold the center of the film as an indomitable genius of engineering and piloting savvy. But First Man isn’t a naked ode to that genius; it’s a fascinating study of the costs.
Armstrong’s historic achievement, too, is reductively articulated in terms of a significant personal event and reckoning, limited, like the field of vision aboard a spacecraft, to a single potent explanation.
One might expect, as an astronaut's son suggests, that outer space would be the most isolating place of all to inhabit—but "First Man" indicates there is enough loneliness and grief to go around with our feet anchored to the ground. I have to feel there's something audacious about Chazelle's choices here when my biggest takeaway from the film is not mankind's achievement on the moon but the fragility of human life.
It's far too long, but so, so beautifully crafted. The authenticity of the lensing and art department really brings home the dangerous fragility of the machines these adventurers placed their lives in. Gosling is great and his wife is thankfully well written as a strong and commanding force where many Hollywood films would not have bothered. First Man is a great ride that's also refreshingly unpatriotic. 3.5 stars
Chazelle thankfully resists making this what could easily have been a hulking piece of overblown schmaltz, focusing instead on subtle but deep character exposition rather than overindulgent sentimentality. The characters perfectly convey the isolation, peril, bereavement and fear of their collective predicaments. The cinematography and strategic use of silence capture both the claustrophobia and infinity of 'space'.
Some of the best craft of the year, and it deserves credit for finding fresh eyes for claustrophobic space travel and extra-terrestrial surfaces. The drawback is that the story itself has a somewhat mathematical calculation—X plus Y equals emotional stakes—and the result isn't insincere but strangely detached. Much like its hero, in fact. But that the ending rhapsody of human achievement takes it as far as it can go.
One of the most ominous biographies about one of the most magnificent Americans. That is “First Man”. Stimulated by the ghost of his daughter, Neil Armstrong steps into the unprecedented realm, which it's unique is executed like a horror full of ominous atmosphere and death with sublime subjectivity. Its last sequence is like a separation by a person who became a ghost himself and his loved one. Haunting as space.
Chazelle presents a technically marvelous film recreating the Genesis and Apollo projects that led to the moonwalk as well as a solid capture of Neil Armstrong throughout those years. But for something that should really capture the imagination and be significantly moving the film somehow falls a little flat. Casting is solid with Ryan Gosling making a strong impression.
Chazelle smartly avoided any type of artifice in the imagery as well as sentimentality in the drama. Hence, expect lucid space images and not fabricated spectacles, as well as emotions that feel humanely grounded and powerfully mature. “First Man” means a first-rate experience. (4.5 stars)
More terrifying than some horror films I've seen. Gosling is pretty much being Gosling, so Foy eventually becomes the emotional ground of the film and steals every moment on-screen. Chazelle doesn't play (too much) the patriotic card, thank god. After all the fluff in "La La Land", this was a nice surprise: visually good, focused, sober, fast-paced and nicely written.