We all know the story of Neil Armstrong’s remarkable achievement. He was, as the title aptly insinuates, the first man to walk on the moon. But how did mankind achieve such an astonishing feat? And after how many lives lost do we insist that enough is enough? You may know the story, but you don’t know the real story, and that’s what First Man has to offer. This is a grounded (I guess not technically?), personal story of the cost of dreams, one that tells Armstrong and NASA’s mission from a unique perspective that you’re unlikely to get from anywhere else, and despite my initial skepticism, this film absolutely won me over.
But we couldn’t have this story with Claire Foy’s utterly remarkable performance as Janet Armstrong. She’s a woman after a simple life, who just so happened to marry a man who ensures it’s anything but, and the film thrives on the importance of this. Normality is dull. Live a life nobody else can dream of, but one the whole world can celebrate. Foy’s brilliance is the heart and soul of this movie, and in a story brimming with testosterone, she’s always able to bring their egos back down to the ground and make them realise just how ridiculous they’re being. Some of her sub-plots do feel a little tedious, but it all plays into the overarching grief complex that’s being explored here, and the final moments of the film serve as the ultimate payoff.
First Man may not be able to reach beyond the extraordinarily high bar set by Whiplash and La La Land, but this film is an entirely different beast, and one that could’ve only been created from a master of his craft. Chazelle, the youngest person to ever win ‘Best Director’ at the Oscars, continues to astound. This movie is remarkable achievement. And while I can’t personally speak on how this film plays in IMAX, as unfortunately I’m yet to experience it, there’s no way a film like this isn’t going to benefit from the format. This is a film you need to see on the biggest screen possible, and one I’m definitely going to experience again.
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