I love watching movies because of films like this, "First Man". They give you something you don't expect, totally expect, they surpass your expectations, leave you wanting more, and then they crash. Oh my word, this film is crazy. It's as dull as a butterknife, but the nuance and subtext is everywhere. I heard it said once that a film can be essentially perfect, but if it fails in the last 10 minutes, then it will be remembered for how it failed in the last 10min and not for how it succeeded in the previous 90+ minutes. "First Man" is the definition of a near-perfect film (for me) that crashes to its ending - and I can't stop thinking about how bad the ending was.
I rarely read movie reviews (ironic, I know), but I can tell you there are probably thousands of random reviewers out there (like me) who would tell you Ryan Gosling's character "Neil Armstrong" is brutally monotone. But for me, the restraint of his character is utterly fascinating. So much of the acting in this film is not in the dialogue, but it's in the expressions, the pauses, the feelings the Story puts forth. Beautifully done by all involved.
This is sacrificing everything to make a dream reality. It's brutal and heart-wrenching, but it's important.
The music is appropriate and moving. Somewhat overdramatized, since we especially needed a breather, but it's good.
Neil Armstrong for me became a whole lot more than the first man on the moon thanks to the way this Story was told. He was creative, surprising, and a great storyteller of what could've just been a generic story of Neil Armstrong heading up to the moon. The film feels like an arthouse film in many ways, and the way the Story is told is very heartfelt.
I felt like I went back in time. You can tell they used their creativity to pull off some scenes in which the budget wasn't there or where the dullness of scenes might have been stronger felt. Damien Chazelle (director of "Whiplash" and "La La Land") is truly a genius. The angles, set designs, and close-ups (yes, they can be a bit much) all push the feelings that Damien wants. The film never rests. It's always pushing and the Visuals are key to doing that.
Oh, the ending. Oh man. Honestly, the film gets WAY TOO LONG in its final 15min. Once Neil and the crew are finally going to the moon (on Apollo 11) they really could've skipped right along. The film becomes something different than its intent. It attempts to show the humanity and heart of a character (Neil) we are trying to desperately understand throughout the film. It succeeds somewhat, but the moment feels ruined by the amount of time and build-up it takes. The journey was amazing, but the landing was brutal. I likely won't watch this movie again, but I would highly recommend watching it if you haven't.