First Man Movie Review: Effulgence of the Moon and Throes of Neil Armstrong

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First Man is an aptly titled movie which explores the afflicting journey of hardships and griefs in the life of Neil Armstrong… Spoilers ahead

When Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) was finally prepping up for the famous first-ever trip to the Moon, there were two contrasting scenes which brought out different emotions. His concerned wife Janet (Claire Foy) tells her son that his dad will be flying out of this world and all the way up to the Moon. Her son, being very young, is unaware of this historic event and asks his mom if he could just go ‘“outside”. And, in the other instance, when Neil and his other two partners (Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) had to answer questions in the customary press meet before the flight, Buzz (Corey Stoll) responds to the reporters saying that they are “excited”. These contrasting emotions resonate well with the audience as we travel through the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. From being oblivious of the sheer magnitude of the events leading up to the mission to getting excited and nervous at the same time by the prospect of gradationally getting to understand the sufferings and monumental efforts, First Man really does take you through an emotional journey.

Based on the book called First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man is a biographical drama on the unseen aspects of one of the most significant space missions in the history.

For the most part, First Man throws light on perturbing and harrowing life of Neil

For the most part, it throws light on the perturbing and harrowing life of Neil. The hindrances that he had to face for this almost decade-long mission only made him hard-bitten and committed. When his daughter dies due to illness, we get to sense his mournfulness while he feels her hair strands in his hands for one last time. Some of his friends and teammates have even died in the process of rocket tests and we can feel his state of despondency and loneliness.

We come to a point where we do not know what is more disturbing than the horde of questions hurled at Neil and the team for the failing mission which is also facing huge criticism for the astronomical sum of money being spent on it. In spite of the failure during the tests, he sees the positive side emphasising upon the notion that failing here on earth would help them overcome adversities up there in space.

Director Damien does not allow the audience to feel at ease either and puts us in the spot to make it look extremely real.

While Neil has to undergo a lot of sufferings during this mission, Director Damien does not allow the audience to feel at ease either and puts us in the spot to make it look extremely real. One can see the brilliance behind those jerky and shaky camera shots which illuminate how tough it can be to control the spaceship. It made it look real so much so that we can feel like we are the ones on that spaceship trying hard to control it against all odds.

The three-pronged approach of portraying the mission to Moon was just marvellous to watch. Neil and his partners on the spaceship, the NASA team on the ground, and Janet at home were all equally involved in this gruelling task. Not only did the successful docking of two spacecraft was romanticised like a reunion of a couple with astounding background score by Justin Hurwitz. But it also brought a smile on the faces of Neil and his partners, the ground team, and Janet who was listening to everything on the radio while her son playfully keeps her busy with all his naughty tricks. And when something goes wrong, they all are in this together. And so are we feeling crestfallen and grievous in the difficult moments and rejoicing for the success.

The movie opens with Neil as a test pilot who steers the aircraft to the ground alive when something goes wrong. We see the intrepidity and never-give-up attitude in him. We see that characteristic nature again when he applies for the mission to Moon and has to go through weary tasks. We realise that it is this hardihood which made him overcome all the struggles over the years and become the first man to walk on the Moon. After all the challenging times, when Neil takes a sigh of relief on finally reaching up there, so do the jubilant people around the globe in the film, and so do we as the audience as we are so much immersed in the movie.

At 2 hours and 21 minutes, First Man feels a bit slow but you do not mind it due to the splendiferousness of the movie

Throughout the movie, we are shown the naked eye shots of Moon which we hark back to when Neil looks at the Earth from the Moon. This is also the time when we are reminded that there are nicer moments in the film as well when all those good memories flash in the eyes of Neil where he cheerfully plays with his children and wife.

At 2 hours and 21 minutes, First Man feels a bit slow but you do not mind it due to the splendiferousness of the movie, amazing performance by Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy who were ably supported by the supporting casts, and brilliant screenplay by Josh Singer (writer of The Post and Spotlight). First Man is an aptly titled movie which explores the afflicting journey of hardships and griefs in the life of Neil Armstrong.

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