FIRST MAN (12A) Five stars

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Culture -

Academy Award-win­ning di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle takes one gi­ant leap for im­mer­sive, nail-bit­ing film-mak­ing in a thrilling drama­ti­sa­tion of the space race be­tween Amer­ica and the Soviet Union.

Based on James R Hansen’s of­fi­cial bi­og­ra­phy of Neil Arm­strong, First Man shoots for the moon and touches down beau­ti­fully by plac­ing us along­side as­tro­nauts in their claus­tro­pho­bic mod­ules or next to ner­vous Nasa staff as they pro­pel mankind into the great un­known.

Hand-held cam­er­a­work, un­ob­tru­sive spe­cial ef­fects and daz­zling sound de­sign leave us stranded thou­sands of miles above terra firma in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to Al­fonso Cuaron’s Grav­ity, at the mercy of new-fan­gled tech­nol­ogy and Lady Luck. The ten­sion is al­most un­bear­able.

Chazelle has us bit­ing our nails to the quick with bold vis­ual flour­ishes and un­showy, pow­er­house per­for­mances from Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy as the hus­band and wife at the epi­cen­tre of the 1969 lu­nar land­ing.

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