First Man

First Man ★★★★

Fine, I admit I get emotional watching Ryan Gosling cry. 

The score and sound mixing is top shelf (at this point, Justin Hurwitz can’t do wrong). Camerawork is great in that it fills every single mission scene with tension. There are shot compositions that may appear slightly pretentious to some, but for me were a laudable mix of effect and beauty.

Damien Chazelle chose to depict one of mankind’s greatest achievements on a scope that is as small as it is precise, a choice with inherent limitations. But it makes First Man a rich (and admittedly speculative) character study before anything else. It’s about one man’s singular vision — his grief, his obsession, and his possible...redemption? Some parts of the story that surrounds him work better than others. But the film does succeed in showing that early space exploration, for all its noble and political intentions, is unrelentingly cruel. Armstrong is a reluctant hero. By the end, there is as much triumph as there is relief.

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