To put it lightly, “First Man” is yet another movie about a white man putting his job ahead of his friends and family but getting rewarded for it. Yes, getting to the moon is an amazing feat. Yet, with a cast giving unenchanting performances and a plot that was more depressing than exciting, the film will be forgotten in T minus 5 minutes.
The movie is about Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) getting to the moon and all of the obstacles he and NASA had to face to get there. Behind this movie is famed director Damien Chazelle, whose recent smash hits include “La La Land” and “Whiplash.” Those movies had a lot of heart to them. Both ended with a heart tugging montage that’ll either pull you out of your seat or make you weep like a baby.“First Man” however, is as cold and calculating as its lead character.
Armstrong is portrayed here as a very stern and serious man who’s almost never happy. There is hardly any emotion behind any of his scenes. When one would expect him to get excited or even smile, the audience is instead rewarded with a simple grunt or banal acknowledgment.
This even includes the moon landing which should have been the emotional crux of the whole film. Instead, the scene is intercut with sad flashbacks which just detract any excitement that the movie establishes. This trend extends to just about every accomplishment he or NASA ever achieves in this film. Instead of being happy about it, for some inexplicable reason, this movie really wants to be upset.
Chazelle chooses to focus on Armstrong’s failing marriage and family instead of the
Space Race. Neil’s wife is played by Claire Foy who does a great job of playing concerned yet
supportive wife number four. You’ve seen this role played a million times by a number of women, and honestly this movie does nothing different or interesting with her character.
However, constantly throughout the film, the audience is told to care more about her and her relationship with Armstrong instead of the much more interesting Space Race going on.
Whenever NASA does something noteworthy in history, the movie immediately cuts to Foy and Gosling staring sadly at each other like its trying to remind us what the audience is truly supposed to care about.
To conclude, not only did this movie make Armstrong look cold and unfeeling, but it also perpetuated the cliche that any man can be dismissive of his family and friends as long as he’s good at his job. This made the movie not only unenjoyable but also extremely dated in an era where Hollywood is finally making strides towards inclusiveness and making women more than just props. This film will be quickly forgotten and is a real disappointment considering the previous work of Chazelle.