By Contributing Writer, Joe Baire
First Man is director Damien Chazelle’s 4th feature length film, joining Guy and Madeline On A Park Bench, Whiplash and La La Land. Coming off being the youngest director in history to win the Best Directing Academy Award, Chazelle takes one giant leap (pun intended) into his filmmaking ability. First Man, staring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler and Corey Stoll, is an intense look into the life of Neil Armstrong, and the journey that made him the first man to walk on the moon. The authentic themes, incredible writing, strong directing, and impeccable acting to tell the story of Neil Armstrong was true to Damien Chazelle level of quality. Once again, Chazelle delivers an incredible film experience.
Ryan Gosling continues an impeccable streak of performances with First Man. His iconic performances in Drive, Blade Runner 2049, La La Land have captivated audiences around the world and First Man will be no different. Gosling had a tough task ahead of him to portray Neil Armstrong in a way no one has seen. Mr. Armstrong was always deemed as a quiet and protective man. Gosling captures this aspect perfectly. His mannerisms, along with his gritty aggression, feels incredibly realistic and genuine. While it is too early to talk about Oscars, at the moment, it would be impossible not to mention him for a best actor nomination. The real surprise coming from First Man was Claire Foy’s amazing performance. While always a very talented actress, after First Man, Foy will be on notice as one of the best working actors today. The all star cast makes this film incredibly exhilarating and emotional on a level that it’s difficult to explain without seeing it. As a whole, the chemistry between Gosling and Foy is incredible. It’s so humanly genuine and real, I left thinking they were actually married.
Chazelle captures the successes and failures of the Apollo teams mission to the moon perfectly. The tension between each scene kept me on the edge of my seat (literally) every second of the way. The film is perfectly paced and never let’s up in its sense of tension, scope and scale. One of the many features of this film was the way it built suspension and anxiety. This is mainly attributed to the incredible score composed by Academy Award Winner Justin Hurwitz. Hurwitz brings such a unique and electric feel to every scene. The way First Man takes such an important moment in American History and turns it into one of the most well crafted, eventful and intimate films of the year is mind boggling. Prior to the film, there was an outcry on the film not being patriotic enough. After seeing this movie, those complaints seem to be greatly exaggerated. Overall, First Man isn’t just a space exploration film. It takes you through the events leading up to the famous moon landing, something many general audiences aren’t aware of. Learning how many trials and errors there were, and how many lives were lost, in the effort to beat Russia to the moon. Chazelle delivered the heartbreaks that were unfortunately happening before the moon landing was incredibly empathetic and respectful to the lives that were lost. Chazelle and company knew what they were doing every step of the way of this film and bring the level of emotion and seriousness needed to convey their point. First Man excels in every technical aspect, which makes it a fantastic joy to see in IMAX, with a packed crowd. This film elevates itself when you have a full audience behind you watching.
As a whole, First Man took all expectations and surpassed them. It is currently the best film of the year for all intents and purposes. Damien Chazelle’s First Man takes you on an experience that is both intoxicatingly thrilling and sobering, unlike anything this year. In short, First Man is a masterpiece.