First Man tells the story of Neil Armstrong and the race to the moon in the 1960s that culminated in the Apollo space missions which ultimately led to astronauts walking on the moon. It tells of the sacrifices everyone made on that selfless journey, some even sacrificing their lives. Based on the biography of Neil Armstrong, titled the same as the film, we get this story from Armstrong’s point of view. Known to his colleagues as a very quiet man, that is on display very well with Gosling’s performance.
I have a confession to make. I didn’t know much about Neil Armstrong before going to see First Man. Of course I knew he was the first to walk on the moon, we’re all taught that in school. What I did not know is that he had a daughter, Karen, who was two and a half years old when she died of a brain tumor. I mention this because I was not prepared. I was out of town, away from my family, of which I have a two and a half year old daughter. Seeing the raw emotion that Ryan Gosling was able to portray while going through that loss was shattering to me. I almost wept in the theater. I was not prepared. Interestingly enough, so quiet and reserved was Armstrong, that some of his closest work colleagues didn’t know he had a daughter either. He never spoke of her to them.
It is a testament to the acting in this movie that I could feel that type of emotion. This movie is good. I don’t mean the type of good that you would answer to someone when they ask you how the new Iron Fist season was. I mean it was really good. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy will be nominated for Academy Awards. They have to be. Their performance definitely warranted such. Lucy Stafford, with this being her first movie, has a vital role and delivers an awesome performance despite her limited screen time. Jason Clarke, playing the role of astronaut Ed White, is quickly shooting up there as one of my favorite actors. He is a pure delight to watch on screen. His presence in movies almost demands you to pay attention. Buzz Aldrin is portrayed by Corey Stoll and he is fantastic in this role. He gets better and better every time I see him.
I highly recommend seeing this movie in the theater. There are a lot of visuals that are best seen on the big screen. Can you wait for DVD or BluRay? Yes, but this is definitely worth seeing while it is still at the movies.