First Man advertises as the first film to show the iconic astronaut, Neil Armstrong's mission to the moon. Which to be honest, surprised me a little. The amount of space films we have we don't often have ones based on the truth. In fact, bar the recent Hidden Figures (2016) off the top of my head none immediately spring to mind. That's a big part within this film, to show us something we've seen countless times but for real, for the first time.
It's a space film, it's science-non-fiction. There are some things that are always going to be interesting to shoot but that doesn't mean the director can get lazy with his work. Linus Sandgren is the cinematographer as he was for Damien Chazelle's Oscar winning La La Land (2016). There's a strong focus on natural organic shots. With at least 70% of the film taking place on Earth it still has to be natural and first and foremost dated. It's the 60's it needs to looks as such and it does. Hair and costume were good as were the vintage space equipment and vessels.
The editing went well with crisp contracts of locations. The muted almost somewhat warm offices and homes to the cold mechanical insides of the space shuttle. The cinematography was subtle. Used various handheld shots to mimic news reports, then used the same technique just slightly different to replicate home movies. Tying the shots with stationary views or image binded to the shuttle works well with the tranquility of space. The score was obviously beautiful. As expected Justin Hurwitz, who did the original music for La La Land (2016) and Whiplash (2014) delivers again for this. A lot of which is gentle but as the film goes on the score becomes more prominent as the frequency of space and moon shots. The mission itself has its own theme. Beautiful yet somewhat evocative. Manages to embody the journey, the sacrifice mixed with the accomplishments. Also big nod to the sound mixing, can't imagine that won't be recognised as award winning. The stark contracts were poignant and fitting as well as the use of real sample interviews.
Now the cast sold me. When back when, when we were just told Chazelle, Gosling, Armstrong, I was in. To be fair, there wasn't a great deal to add to that. Gosling was fantastic as expected, he's getting the opportunity to flex his acting chops a little more and he's getting taken more and more seriously. The difficulty he had with the role was that he was playing a real person. It's not a character. And though Armstong is a world wide name he's not a world wide character. I think a lot of people would struggle to pick him out of a line up let alone know what his personality is. So yes Gosling can act, he's tern and quiet but speaks up when needed. He shows intelligences and interest as well as awe. All of which whilst mourning. He doesn't let his feelings overpower him except when he does. I imagine he may get an Oscar nom.
Claire Foy on the other hand may actually win. She maintains the poise and authority that she's mastered in The Crown. She's herself alongside a wife and mother. She has some real powerful scenes with Gosling and it really makes you think about the pressure this situation would put on any relationship. The final wordless scene between the two of them felt so intimate and strong though it was just a small interaction between them. With no comparison to the real people I personally found Foy to be a more believable person.
It was overall a beautiful film. Well constructed story of a mans life during a period in which he made history. I wanted to like this more. I'm a fan of so many elements but I'm not jump to rewatch this as I did Chazelle's previous filmography. It's long. Towards the end of the film it kinda feels like the end of a long haul flight home, everything up to this point has been nice but you know whats going to happen next so you're just kinda waiting for the landing.
Meticulously made, and deserves to be appreciated. Just not my favourite thing to come from any of the cast or crew. 7/10
CINEMATES - A