After directing two of the 21st century’s greatest movies (Whiplash and La La Land), Damien Chazelle takes a successful foray into not only non-musical filmmaking but also non-fiction filmmaking. First Man is centered on Neil Armstrong—the foremost person to set foot on the moon.
Aided by the writer of Spotlight (Josh Singer) with his screenplay based upon James R. Hansen’s biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, and a talented lead (Ryan Gosling), the movie delivers what the prestige of the crew and cast promised beforehand: an authentic feature film about the thrilling events which culminated in the successful Apollo 11 Mission.
What I liked best was that unlike other biographical pictures which frequently showcase their narrative’s heroes and time periods as flawless—in First Man, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement are also discussed—so both sides of the story are cleverly depicted in this flick.
Other positive points include the stellar cast with Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy being stand-outs. The usage of close-ups was unparalleled, and due to Chazelle’s experience with arranging music in regards to film, the sound design is top-notch, and you might forget the cinematography long after watching First Man, but the score is bound to stay with you forever.
Nevertheless, the motion picture has its flaws. It concentrates on too many plot points leading to a lack of visual depth. The running time is also too long. It should’ve amounted to 110 minutes instead of 138 minutes. And some parts made the overall movie seem sluggish and boring as compared to its more riveting sequences.
Lastly, First Man might not be one of the best biopics out there, but it’s certainly one of the finest movies of 2018. Chazelle has outdone himself and proved again that he is one of this 21st century’s greatest directors along with Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve.