The man with the most right stuff
Ryan Gosling’s First Man is a space hero with soul
When the Eagle finally lands on the moon in First Man, the picture truly soars.
Director Damien Chazelle puts us inside the cramped lunar module with Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll), as the spindly spacecraft hurtles towards the crater-pocked surface in what appears to be an imminent crash. Red computer lights are flashing danger warnings that the astronauts have chosen to ignore. This heart-stopping scene caps a tremendous achievement by Chazelle and his crew.
Gosling, who previously costarred in Chazelle’s musical reverie La La Land, plays Armstrong not as the smiling flying ace of NASA-approved profiles. We see him instead as a deeply private man, one whose robotic self-discipline masked the pain of family tragedy that followed him to the moon and back.
First Man finds its beating heart in Claire Foy’s emphatic portrayal of Janet Armstrong, the long-suffering spouse Neil left to raise their two young sons as he trained to roam the cosmos.
There’s a real “Oscar moment” in a scene where Janet demands that Neil tell his sons Rick (Luke Winters) and Mark (Connor Blodgett) that the moon mission he’s about to embark on is fraught with danger and that he might not be coming home. Chazelle never lets us forget that this is a movie about the moon, Howell writes. Full review at thestar.com/movies
Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in First Man.
The film’s beating heart is Claire Foy’s emphatic portrayal of Janet Armstrong.