First Man Gets It Right

Ryan Gosling is great as Neil Armstrong
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2018 10:45 AM CDT

Ryan Gosling is back under the direction of La La Land's Damien Chazelle, this time as Neil Armstrong in First Man, based on James R. Hansen's biography of the astronaut. Also starring The Crown's Claire Foy, the film has won over critics, who give it an 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What to expect:

  • At CNN, Brian Lowry calls First Man "a dazzling accomplishment, from the cinematography to the musical score" and one of the year's best movies. "The buttoned-up nature of the character puts Gosling to the test, but he conveys a great deal with mere glances and expressions," he writes. Chazelle, meanwhile, "keeps the focus squarely on the protagonist and the mission."
  • Gosling "turns in a discreet, sensitive performance" that might fit his character, but "the movie feels too fussed-over for such a low-key hero," Stephanie Zacharek writes at Time. There are "too many feelings, even for those of us who like them," continues Zacharek, who felt Chazelle's emphasis on the 1968 death of Armstrong's 2-year-old daughter from a brain tumor didn't mesh with the astronaut's private nature.

  • On the opposite side of the fence, Colin Covert at the Minneapolis Star Tribune applauds the "tremendous personal insight" given to Armstrong, aided by Gosling, who "digs down to the man's bone marrow." Foy is just as "excellent" as Armstrong's wife, Janet. Together, they add "a sense of emotional intimacy to the people committed to the [space] program."
  • While Gosling "seriously impresses," First Man "finds its beating heart in Foy's emphatic portrayal of Janet," Peter Howell writes at the Toronto Star. He describes a scene in which she demands her husband be the one to tell his two sons he might not come home as "a real 'Oscar moment.'" With the later lunar landing, the film "truly soars," he adds.
(More movie review stories.)

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