The man with the most right stuff

Ryan Gosling’s First Man is a space hero with soul

StarMetro Edmonton - - DAILY LIFE - Peter How­ell MOVIE CRITIC

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

UNI­VER­SAL PIC­TURES

Ryan Gosling as Neil Arm­strong in First Man.

The film’s beat­ing heart is Claire Foy’s em­phatic por­trayal of Janet Arm­strong.

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