Damien Chazelle’s 2018 film, First Man charts Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) in the years leading-up to his historical walk on the moon. The film shows the dangers of stepping out into the unknown and the toll that it took on his wife (Claire Foy) and his friends and colleagues.
At its core Chazelle’s First Man is about personal loss, drive and forward momentum. Chazelle’s film opens with he death of Armstrong’s young daughter from cancer and we see how his own forward propulsion drove him to make his historical moon-landing. It was a way of release, an escape from the harsh reality into the unknown. Chazelle captures this – even if the film is a little clinical, feeling like an abridged version of a longer film, one with the main beats kept in, but missing the heart and soul.
The technical mastery on display here is exceptional. Justin Hurwitz’s score is one of the best that I’ve heard in a long, long time while Linus Sandgren’s cinematography captures some beautiful textures and colours. Sandgren used 16mm, 35mm and 70mm IMAX to create some wonderful visuals, which work brilliantly with the seamless special effects.
Budgeted at $59 million, First Man grossed $44.9 million at the US box office and $105 million globally.