First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle cold opens with that I could only describe as an absolutely terrifying look at what it was like to be a test pilot in the 60’s, you hear every little nut and bolt warping and you feel every massive unnerving vibration for what felt like an eternity. This set the tone for the rest of the film and signalled that we were in for one hell of a ride.
And yet First Man is not just a bunch of planes and rockets flying around, in fact the entire Film is mostly more focused on Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and how all of these event leading up to the Moon Landing affected him, specifically his mental state. This is where the film absolutely excels, by chronicling his journey from test pilot all the way to Apollo, losing friends along the way.
Gosling and Claire Foy push out really stellar performances here, the relationship between the two seems very very plausible and there is a lot of very emotionally charged scenes between them throughout. The supporting cast is packed to the brim with recognisable faces too, a standout for me was Jason Clarke’s performance as Ed White, the first American to EVA in space who at first I thought I really wasn’t going to like the character but by the mid-point of the film I was sold.
One of the qualities of First Man that I noticed almost instantly was the very unique Cinematography which most of the time uses handheld medium to long telephoto shots creating a very intimate and raw look to the images on screen. The other main quality visually is the fact that most of the film was shot with 2-perf Techniscope film which gives a very organic vintage look, usually i’d take issue with a lower resolution stock for a film like this but here it really fits in with the overall aesthetics.
In First Man we do get some really ridiculously stellar space sequences, the way these are edited and shot create almost pure dread, in fact the only time I have felt this on edge was when I saw Gravity for the first time, it is that bloody good. Production design is fantastic and of course when we get to the Apollo sequence the images on the screen are graceful and an utterly mesmerising experience.
From impeccably shot terrifying spaceflight to absolute gut wrenching heartbreak, First Man is something to be seen on the biggest screen possible with the loudest sound. I highly recommend this film and the moment this comes out in UltraHD you can be sure I’ll be there Day 1.
Thanks to Universal Pictures Australia for the invite to the Premiere.