First Man – Movie Review


Rating: A+


  • The art of the restrained performance is one that goes overlooked by many, but it’s actors like Ryan Gosling that keep it alive and here he puts it on display brilliantly. Gosling brings to life one of the least demonstrative of heroes, as his characters unshakable focus and introverted demeanor forced him to keep his emotions internalized. This is a performance that will likely get overlooked when the Oscars come around, because of how repressed it is, but I sure hope the Academy keeps it in mind.
  • Damien Chazelle’s direction here is phenomenal. Chazelle puts together a film that mixes the visceral with the personally intimate, while also being both an exercise and study of self containment. Chazelle shoots this film a majority of the time in intense handheld close ups, which helps bring the films shocking Terrence Malick-esque intimacy. He immerses you in both the suffocating NASA missions and in the Armstrong family life. Don’t even get me started on the films finale, which is nothing short of awe-inspiring astonishment. Chazelle treats our reveal to surface of the Moon, much like Dorothy opening the door to Oz for the first time. The film goes to a dead eerie silence as the screen is filled with a spectacle of beauty of the lunar surface.
  • The screenplay by Josh Singer is quite great. Singer’s choice of making such an epic voyage like the landing on the Moon, actually be a personal focus on Neil Armstrong is brilliant. This is one of those biopics where virtually everyone knows the ending. But the screenplay by Singer and the direction by Chazelle both capture the astonishing feat that this was and how impossible it felt then, and frankly still feels today.
  • The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is fantastic. Sandgren captures both the most intense and most intimate of moments in this film. He shoots the suburban nights in cool blue as if they are seemingly lit from the Moon itself. As it seems to be on Neil’s mind 24/7. Sandgren and Chazelle’s choice of capturing all the missions in such a visceral state was a great one. We are always tight on Armstrong’s face and the camera is constantly shaking. Which if you get motion sickness easy you easily could get affected if you sit close enough to the screen. But when the finale comes and we shift from 16mm and 35mm to 65mm IMAX Sandgren takes full advantage. We capture the curvature surface of the Moon all off the reflection from Armstrong’s helmet, as it is bestowed to us in such out of this world beauty.
  • The score by Justin Hurwitz is both angelically harmonious and an orchestral spectacle throughout. Hurwitz helps bring all the emotions to new heights from familial life of Armstrong to the most intense of NASA missions. This is by far one of the best scores of the year and should definitely be in conversation  come Oscar time.
  • The visual effects and sound design in this film are incredible. The visual effects in this film are nearly all in camera and it pays off tremendously as it helps the immersive process. The sound design on the other hand is a symphony of roaring jet engines, groaning metal and heavy breathing. The intricacies are all there and bring much of the intensity.


  • None.

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