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Everyone has their favourite movie genre. Be it comedy, action, thriller, or romance, it’s all subjective. But sometimes a film isn’t just one genre. Sometimes a movie encompasses many elements of a variety of genres.
So much so, by the time it’s finished, you have no idea how to label it. Academy Award–winning director Damien Chazelle’s First Man, starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, is one of those films. The biopic follows the adventures and life of Neil Armstrong; from his entry into NASA’s astronaut program in 1961 to his important walk on the moon eight years later.
Whether you’re a drama fan, a lover of suspense, or a serious history buff, First Man has something for everyone. Find out what to look forward to when the film lands in theatres October 11.
This is the most obvious one. First Man is not just about space exploration, it follows one of the most important and monumental space missions ever; the Apollo 11 moon landing. But this isn’t your average space thriller. Chazelle takes the material and makes it viscerally cinematic, keeping the camera close and often using natural light to highlight both the beauty and power of space.
Since First Man is based on real life events, the serious moments hit especially hard for those who like dramas. The emptiness Pat White feels when her husband Ed dies in the cockpit fire of Apollo 1, the devastation that remains with Neil after the passing of his daughter Karen, the tumultuous arguments between him and Janet, the fear his boys feel when he tells them he might not make it back from the mood—it’s all enough to bring a drama fan to tears.
Despite the internal turmoil that plagues Neil as his work starts putting strain on his family, the movie isn’t just a character piece. From fiery crash landings to hurtling beyond the stratosphere in shaky metal prototypes, First Man is jam-packed with bold moves that you wouldn’t believe were actually done by the real life astronauts back in the 60s.
It you’re the kind of movie watcher who likes a full history less in a film, First Man delivers. Both Gosling and Chazelle spent time on Neil Armstrong’s farm in Ohio with his kids, learning as much as they could about the first man to walk on the moon to give the character an accurate portrayal. While the film does follow chronological events, the history buff will be happy to know that the film also provides a deeper look into Neil’s home life and his relationships—something he was very private about.
There isn’t much romance in this film and if you blinked, you might have missed it. But for those die-hard romance lovers, they’ll see that Neil and Janet’s love runs deep after years of marriage, kids, space exploration, and insurmountable loss. It’s not until the last scene, where they place their hands to one another’s on the glass window of Neil’s quarantine room, do audiences realize this film does have an element of romance. While Janet is relieved to see her husband returned to earth safely, they both know his devotion to the mission has altered their relationship in irreversible ways.
Audiences know the ending of the film before seeing it—spoiler alert: Neil Armstrong does in fact walk on the moon—however, Chazelle has a way of making viewers sit on the edges of their seats with his stunning cinematography, coupled with shaky airship footage that fills the film with suspense. Even though we know the outcome, the movie’s still super gripping, making the Apollo 11 mission a real nail-biter.