First Man 登月第一人 (2018) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Directed by 2016 Oscar winning “La La Land”, Damien Chazelle, the latest film reunites Ryan Gosling in creating something worthy of more than a single viewing. Rather than go the simpler patriotic route to satisfy and touch the mass audience, Chazelle employs a similar vision as the recent masterpiece “Dunkirk” in its execution. What we get as a result is a slow burn character study that portray the real struggles of human emotions during the time and journey of Neil Armstrong much famed and historic landing of the moon. This is the kind of film that grips you long after it ends as we are amazed as to the cinematic experience we just experienced. It is precisely the kind of film that brings you back to the cinema and preferably as viewed by me, on a massive IMAX screen.
What is so great about Ryan Gosling’s character play of the legendary Neil Armstrong is the understated delivery,l and constant internal struggle. We see how he reacts to the death of his baby daughter and then his decision to go to the moon and how it affects those around him. Some of the best moments of the film remain in silence, during the press conference prior to the launch of the moon expedition, Gosling’s eyes tells a inner turmoil and depict someone not after fame or national glory, but simply a knowledge that he may actually die from trying. Claire Foy who plays Gosling’s wife is excellent in support and in a moment of frustration, it produces one of the film best scenes. She confronts Gosling to tell his sons about the possibility of their father not being able to return from space. Corey Stoll plays the other moon lander Buzz Aldrin, is far more flamboyant and their differences is easily channeled with Gosling’s reserved look throughout.
What I really enjoyed about viewing the film in IMAX is the fact that it is made for a love of classic cinema, the detail, the soundtrack, the mood and finally the majestic take on the gigantic moon. As audience we constantly are put into the character’s situation as we know any slight mistake will cost their lives. All the more amazing is that 1960s technology is nowhere near as smooth as today which adds to the impossibility yet achievability of the task on hand. Criticisms were unjustified in terms of Gosling not stamping upon the historic American flag moment on the moon, but it makes the film better, more realistic and more about the achievement for all humans as a whole rather than simply American. This is easily one of the best cinematic experience of 2018. The Oscar race officially begins here.
I rated it 9/10