FIRST MAN (2018) movie review


How could they have known they were sending a crippled man to the moon? Emotionally broken, tripped up over and over, Neil Armstrong’s journey into space was fraught with death. He knew the risks but pushed on. We know that there are many ways to grieve, so many faces, steps, phases. Each day a smaller crescent shows until the grief washes over and you are full once more.Director Damien Chazelle’s newest dazzler wasn’t what I expected at all. It’s pensive, somber. It doesn’t have the heat or pace or pressure of Whiplash. It’s not fueled with color or pizzazz like LaLa Land. Rather, this feels more Malick-esque. Somber tone throughout, it steps softly into each phase of the story. The tension sits on brows, in close proximity always leaning forward, waiting.So much is shot in POV, allowing viewers an experiential almost widescreen VR approach. No doubt the Executive Producer, Spielberg, had a hand in that. We feel the Eagle’s Landing and step onto the lunar soil ourselves, then we glimpse the long horizon and slice of earth through the visor.Gosling’s Neil Armstrong is perfectly poised and tenuous. He is calm and calculated, exacting and still. His silence screams his character’s pain and grief.His counterpart Claire Foy holds the audience in the same spin as well. Her eyes echo the stories of loss without words, pain so deeply felt it changes you, drowning out all but the one focus. For the Armstrong family, loss bolstered drive that became history-making.From his sweet fathering moments holding his kids, playing, laughing, to the ever-present near-death scenarios involved in space travel, Gosling holds our gaze with his. “I see the moon and the moon sees me. …Shine on the one I love.”

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