First Man surrounds the life of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) as he joins NASA and his journey through the various missions that eventually lead him to land on the moon.
Damien Chazelle does it again. The cinematography is breathtaking, I have no idea how Chazelle was able to film some of this stuff. There’s also a lot of shaky cam for this film, and I personally hate shaky cam, but it totally works here and didn’t bother me because of the various POV shots, experiencing everything with Armstrong. The Moon sequence especially was beautiful and chilling.
My biggest criticism of this film is that it’s kind of boring and too long. This film is definitely slow, the films drags on the various missions before actually going to the moon, I think they could have moved those at a faster pace.
A criticism I’ve heard is that Gosling plays Armstrong too stoically so you cannot connect with him, Armstrong was stoic and reserved, but I was able to connect with him. This film surrounds the life of Armstrong, and really shows the audience that we don’t know much about Armstrong’s personal life and how much tragedy occurred in it.
Also there was a big controversy that the movie doesn’t show Armstrong put the American flag on the moon. And it’s true that you don’t physically see him plant the flag, but the American flag is shown on the moon.
Also this film takes place in the 60s and I read they used 16mm film in certain sequences to make it feel more authentic and retro. Technically this movie is a masterpiece, but emotionally and story wise not so much. The audience has a detachment from Armstrong because while you are experiencing the film with him, you can’t really see or understand what’s going on in his head. It’s definitely my least favorite of Chazelle’s films so far, but it’s still a really good film.
I give First Man a B+