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First Man Review

6 Sep

This year’s Dunkirk in that cold, monotonous filmmaking gets praised for its restraint and minimalism when in reality it just has no idea how to translate a compelling real life story. You can sense the push and pull between Chazelle and Singer throughout. The former is clearly straining for some semblance of wonder and artistry, some approach that will transcend the realm of the biopic and unite the film under a grand yet grounded emotional tapestry; unfortunately, with the exception of a scene at the end, this just mostly results in a bunch of perfunctory navel gazing that will undoubtedly be compared to Malick. Meanwhile, Singer is perfectly content with working squarely in the realm of a generic, Point A to Point B type of story, which results in an awkward clash that never provides the film any sort of momentum.

Claire Foy, one of the more talented performers in the game right now, does a great job with a pretty weak character. The film struggles mightily to connect the space storyline to the characters’ emotional storylines, throwing in nods to Armstrong’s family and internal struggles without really saying anything meaningful about them. The lead up to and training for the actual Apollo launch is fairly dull fare as well, so it comes as no surprise that the two aspects aren’t linked together as smoothly as they’re supposed to be. Furthermore, the film’s approach towards Armstrong’s daughter—whom he never actually talked about—just reeks yet again of Hollywood taking very personal events and piling the drama on top in the name of art.

Chandler is underused; what else is new? Meanwhile, the extremely talented Gosling forgets the extremely talented part and pretty much sleepwalks through this entire thing, dooming the film’s potential from the beginning. The behind the scenes team Chazelle has put together—Sandgren, Cross, Hurwitz,  etc.—is incredible and should continue to make films together, but this particular film has all the hallmarks of their technical prowess with none of the immense charm of their collective passion. I was skeptical going in, but if anyone could surprise me, it was probably them. It feels like sanitized Chazelle to the point where it just feels like Josh Singer, so I for one cannot wait until he gets back to doing what he does best. But in the meantime: onto the Oscars again, I suppose.

GRADE: B-/C+

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4 Responses to “First Man Review”

  1. Keith Noakes September 6, 2018 at 9:59 am #

    I’m seeing this at TIFF.

    • polarbears16 September 6, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

      Will be on the lookout for your review! Hope you enjoy

  2. Ricardo September 6, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

    i didnt know you worked in the film industry polarbears!

    • polarbears16 September 6, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

      Ha not exactly working yet, but trying to!

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