Damien Chazelle has the unenviable job of following up La La Land, the film that won him an Academy Award for Best Director. What a weight that must hold as a creative, so much that, in any attempt, he deserves any and all credit for trying. His follow-up, the Neil Armstrong-centered First Man, is such a film showing much promise. Some of the film works, and what doesn’t is merely a noble and marginal misunderstanding.
Successfully, Chazelle has undoubtedly achieved a sensational film; meaning, that the movie looks and feels absolutely right. Working with a crackerjack team of sound designers and an ace director of photography in Linus Sandgren, Chazelle has conjured up all of the right nooks to take us back to a time of more curiosity about outer space. On the other end of the coin, the performances from Ryan Gosling (as Armstrong) and Claire Foy (his wife) are very, very strong.
What the film is missing—really, from its blueprints—is its place of relevancy. No doubt, Armstrong has quite a story to tell, and visually the film does just that for you. At times, during its near two-and-a-half-hour runtime, one wonders just what significance the film plays. Chazelle’s first major theatrical release, Whiplash, measured mentally and physically what it takes to be an artist. La La Land assessed the joy of art and love and its costs. First Man expectedly observes a complex American hero but does not prop the film up with universality towards the audience. Due to adult themes and brief strong language, Dove.org does not approve First Man
The Dove Take
There are quite a few strong lessons offered in the film. Characters and families form communities for support during the trying times of space travel and show determination to achieve their goals.