Friday, October 19, 2018

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - First Man

First Man

Rating: PG (Canada) / PG-13 (USA)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Language: English

Length:  138 minutes

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll

Viewing Method: Regular Screening

Release Date: October 12, 2018

Synopsis: The 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 explores the sacrifices and the cost -- on Armstrong and on the nation -- of one of the most dangerous missions in history.


Those expecting First Man to be a thrilling look at the race to be the first to get a man on the moon will most likely end up disappointed. First Man, instead, offers up a more quiet, contemplative character study of the man who would be the one to take those historic first steps.

Ryan Gosling's Neil Armstrong is a stoic man whose type of masculinity meant being unable to show emotion. His Neil is not, however, uncaring or unfeeling. He in fact feels a great deal. He is just more comfortable internalizing it and only allow displays in more private situation. This characterization suits Gosling's talents and feels like a natural fit. It makes the viewer lean in a little to decipher who exactly this man was. It's exactly the type of performance you would expect from Gosling and that should indicate if it'll be something you enjoy or not.

This movie is at its best when it is focusing on Neil Armstrong and who he was as a person. It shines when it lets itself be a character study. There are moments when the movie veers off this path and attempts to explore the larger question of whether this space exploration program was worth the cost, both in financial terms and in lives lost during the process. The movie never really manages to answer this question. It feels like a deliberate choice done to allow the viewer to make their own decision but it never really goes deep enough for that to be possible.

The final shots of the movie where Neil finally takes those first steps onto the moon are stunning to look at. Every from the cinematography to the directing choices and colour palates work to create a truly breathtaking spectacle. It also offers the most stunning example of sound and its use in movies that I can recall in a long time. Getting to space is noisy. This movie is filled with loud, noisy moments that all lead up to the eventual silence that is felt during these final moments. The lack of sound is so pronounced that it is just as jarring as the more violent symphonies that came before it. It's a remarkably done moment and one that I am excited to experience again.

This movie also does an incredible job with making space exploration feel difficult and dangerous. It feels like something earned, and at times like something we are not supposed to experience. The unknowable vastness of it is shown to be both breathtaking and fear inducing. The reality of traveling into space is not something this movie takes lightly and therefore neither does the audience.

The movies most emotionally resonate moments come from the family bonds that are effectively woven into the story. Neil and his relationship with his children provide the two strongest emotional beats in the movie. The strain on Neil's family, and himself, is clearly evident at numerous times during the movie. Claire Foy does an excellent job at playing someone trying to keep their home life together while worrying that her husband may not come back from his job. Her performance lets you see the toll that takes on not just her, but the kids. The cost of this mission isn't just a financial one and it is one more piece to weigh in the decision of worthiness.

The second man to walk on the moon, because this is such a singular character study, is delegated to a background character. Buzz Aldrin was a much more boisterous, outgoing man when compared to Neil and that fact is showcased here. Their character traits are so expertly woven in that even the way they walk on the moon is indicative of who they are as men. It is this attention to details about both the setting and character that manage to set this movie apart.

I would be remiss to not mention the style used to film this movie. It has a grainy sort of old time feel that matches the period this is set in perfectly. It's a clear image that manages to capture that classic feel at the same time. It fits the story perfectly and makes the incredible moon sequence feel all the more vibrant.

First Man is a solid movie that offers up breathtaking shots, an insightful character study, and a history lesson all in one. It's focus on the man, and not solely on the mission, make this a more grounded look at space exploration and the humble man who is now such a large part of American history.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you even more for leaving me a comment.

I have decided to make this an awards free blog. I appreciate the gesture, and love that you thought of my blog, however I simply can't pass them along as required.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...