Let’s get something out of the way first. You may have heard about First Man being in the news, as it de-emphasises the American flag’s moon planting, and supposedly that makes the film anti-American. This is ridiculous to be honest, especially as you see the flag planted, it’s just, keeping in line tonally, that particular thing’s not foregrounded, so there you go.
What about the film itself then? Mainly focusing on Neil Armstrong (played very naturally by Ryan Gosling) in the years leading up to Apollo 11’s moon-landing mission, Damien Chazelle directs this with an amazing subjective sensibility, without the Oscar bait trappings either. It’s also to the ensemble’s credit that even as Gosling inevitably dominates proceedings, everyone has their change to make an impression.
Claire Foy, for example, makes quite a good impression as Janet Shearon, Armstrong’s wife and a determined, vulnerable family woman. And Kyle Chandler shows good, experienced professionalism as Deke Slayton (NASA’s Chief Of The Astronaut Office), Corey Stoll projects style as Buzz Aldrin, and so forth.
Also, you wouldn’t need 3D for this film, which I say because like Dunkirk, you get enough subjective immersion that there’s no need, so everything as a whole comes across brilliantly.
All in all then, we’re well into the early Oscar stages by now, and I can only say that if other films, like Vice, are up to the standard of this and A Star Is Born alone, we could be in for an interesting race. Watch this space (no pun intended!).