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Ryan Gosling – Neil Armstrong
Claire Foy – Janet Armstrong
Jason Clarke – Ed White
Kyle Chandler – Deke Slayton
Corey Stoll – Buzz Aldrin
Pablo Schreiber – Jim Lovell
Christopher Abbott – David Scott
First Man was one of the last films I saw at the cinema in East Didsbury; a cinema I visited regularly due to its lovely leafy location. Oh, and in-built Starbucks (you can’t go wrong with an extra hot vente latte before and after a film). I was about to leave Manchester and move back to London so this was a case of First Man, final goodbye for me. Many of us have a film which reminds us of a certain time / event in our lives (Mannequin– starting secondary school, Kill Bill -losing my virginity to a boss-eyed but very hunky guy at university, The Iron Lady- working in an office on the sea front in Brighton, etc.). Movies are like time stamps sometimes. So I sat down, wondered if Ryan Gosling would lose any of his cuteness by playing a 1960’s astronaut, and marked this one as my ‘leaving Mancs movie’…
Gosling keeps his strong performance at top level throughout First Man, telling the story of Neil Armstrong directly from the NASA test pilot’s point of view. And perhaps the best part of his performance is how emotional it gets during scenes concerning a deceased family member. The actor portrays Neil’s loss with such a genuine display of anguish that it puts feeling into the production, and doesn’t fill it entirely with moon landing excitement. This is where the movie splits between human suffering and the splendour of space travel, shaking up the dramatics nicely.
Foy makes a convincing 1960’s housewife too; although the actress grates on me for some reason I can’t deny her performance was just as strong as Gosling’s. The pair lead the movie towards its emotional end, which contains a scene that may baffle some viewers.
I won’t give anything away, but keep your eyes peeled once Neil touches down on the surface of the moon. Something happens during the astronaut’s exploration of the rock, and hints at an event in his life which may (or may not) have actually happened. I for one wasn’t expecting it to happen, and when it did I was slightly surprised. It adds a nice twist to the story too, meaning First Man isn’t just a dreary 60’s piece of crap covered in flower power wallpaper. It branches out into a more engaging sub-plot. How ironic that this movie marked my final goodbye too..
Whether you love a bit of Gosling, have a keen interest in astronomy or space travel, or simply want to catch a glimpse of what the surface of the moon looks like, First Man is sure to give you a buzz. Filmed with some great direction, it remains a strong production for its duration and gives you just the right amount of drama – without going overboard.
Not bad. Not amazing, but not bad.