First Man (2018)
October 13, 2018 7:54 AM - Subscribe
A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
A. A. Dowd - AV Club:
A. A. Dowd - AV Club:
“Why do you think space travel is important?” a NASA bigwig asks Neil Armstrong during the biggest job interview of his life. It’s all about a change in perspective, the future astronaut replies—about finding a new way to see the world, and maybe everything else, too. First Man, Damien Chazelle’s grippingly unconventional portrait of this “reluctant American hero,” offers a fresh outlook of its own. As biopics go, it’s singularly focused on literal nuts-and-bolts work, the years of elbow grease and sacrifice it took to get Armstrong and the rest of the Apollo 11 crew to the moon. Yet the film also views this historic event almost entirely through the eyes (and by extension, psychology) of its real-life icon. What Chazelle has made, in other words, is a nitty-gritty procedural that treats the NASA odyssey as a window into Armstrong’s unknowable mind, an inner space as mysterious as the outer one he blasts himself into.Bryan Bishop - The Verge:
Chazelle has made an impeccably crafted film, so finely detailed and shot through with danger and menace that it often feels like this is the first time the realities of the 1960s space program have been accurately portrayed. The opening X-15 flights kick things off. It isn’t some hotshot bit of piloting designed to impress the audience with the lead character’s skills; Armstrong almost dies in the first minutes of First Man, and his situation doesn’t get any safer from there. Chazelle and his collaborators are intent on conveying the risks of space exploration in a way that feels immediate and real. Part of it is the events they choose to highlight: more things in First Man go wrong than right. But it’s also the way the film dwells on the ramifications of those failures, like the moments with Janet and the other wives, or the way Armstrong has to rush out of a friend’s funeral reception because he simply can’t cope. Then there’s the cinematic execution of the space sequences.Alissa Wilkinson - Vox:
That the movie never really reaches a state of full-blown exhilaration is likely to frustrate viewers who are looking to have their sense of ownership in its historical events reinforced. But rather than focus on American achievement, First Man pays its deepest respects to Armstrong and to the men and women who risked and sacrificed their lives to get to the moon. The movie sees Armstrong’s reserve as both a blessing and a curse, a gift and a problem, but it’s unequivocal in its admiration of his humility. And in this way, it feels less like it’s forcing a myth onto the man who made it clear to his biographer that he wasn’t seeking renown — and more like a statement of gratitude.