First Man

I had to give this one a few days. I have a strong bias against biopics and other "based on a true story" films. It's that feeling you get when you find out something was fabricated to give the story a better narrative. I don't like that feeling even though everything in a completely fictional film exists for that same purpose. That bias means that I watch films like this at a distance, with a degree of scepticism, which ironically means I don't get as emotionally invested as I would with something completely fictional.

So, I gave it a few days. And after that time details of the interpersonal relationships began to fade away. What I was left with was a really profound sense of perspective, both visually and emotionally.

Following the space program through Neil and Janet's eyes gave me a new sense of scope. In the scope of history (to pull a phrase from the film) it didn't take us very long to get to the moon, which is how I've always learned about the space program. But in the scope of the lives of the people who lived it, it was a sequence of big events spanning time.

The film only leaves Janet or Neil's perspective a few times to give touches of broader context.

Finally, I've never seen any film give such a strong sense of what it must feel like to be on one planet, get on a ship, and then land on another celestial body. I think a big part of that is how few exterior shots we get of the ships and how much time we spend in first person perspective in cockpits. Spending so much time in small spaces creats a really special experience when the lunar lander door opens.

I've never seen a moment quite like the one where Neil is describing what the surface of the moon looks like right before he takes his step. The whole film builds to that moment and that's what stayed with me.