“First Man” gives Ryan Gosling the role of a lifetime


From "First Man" official website

Riley Murphy

From “La La Land” to “The Notebook,” Ryan Gosling has definitely been an icon in the cinematic world. However, his role as Neil Armstrong in “First Man” has hands-down been his best role yet.

The movie opens with Armstrong being sent into space in a X-15 rocket in 1961. Director Damien Chazelle and Gosling did an excellent job painting a picture of Armstrong’s fear in this mission and right away the audience was on the edge of their seats.

During this mission, the rocket was shaking uncontrollably as it started to exit Earth’s atmosphere. This, combined with the synchronized beeping and warnings of the rocket, really builds a sense of foreboding doom for Armstrong which is most likely what Chazelle intended to do.

This dramatic scene leads up to a series of raw emotions that Gosling did so well in portraying.

The first one being the loss of Armstrong’s young daughter Karen who battled against a brain tumor. Right away the audience sees Gosling beautifully portray the feeling of grief and loss in a father as he breaks down in the seclusion of his office. This scene is definitely a tearjerker, especially for parents.

As the movie progresses, Armstrong holds the death of his daughter with him as he unknowingly gets closer and closer to the Apollo mission which eventually leads to him landing on the moon.

One of my favorite moments of this movie is when Armstrong goes through his training in order to be on the Gemini Eight mission. In order to be considered, a candidate must be able to learn what they will be doing but also be able to withstand the harsh circumstances of flying.

In order to simulate flying, the leaders of the Gemini Eight project made each candidate go through a rocket simulation test.

The simulation that they used was basically a giant hamster ball of death, as each person was spun around three different ways at the same time as the speed increased and they were supposed to straighten the vehicle.

Fast forward to Armstrong and the rest of the crew throwing up in the bathroom stalls. Many other moments like these really add a sense of dry humor that was needed in the movie.

Another aspect that certainly made the movie more entertaining to watch was the relationship between Armstrong and his two kids Rick, played by Gavin Warren, and Mark Armstrong, played by Connor Blodgett.

The aspect of family really adds to the story, especially since towards the end Armstrong has to try and explain to his kids why he might not be coming back from the Apollo mission.

Although all the amazing scenes and acting made a great movie, I started to get antsy and wished there was more to it. The audience was basically left to try and interpret Armstrong’s and other characters’ emotions by themselves. There was nothing to really witness that might lead to the assumption of how Armstrong felt about his overall purpose.

Also, the ending left me confused and honestly a little upset. The movie ends with Armstrong coming back from his mission to the moon in a quarantine base behind a wall of glass in order to see his wife, Janet, played by Claire Foy.

They simply touch their hands together through the glass and… that’s it. There’s nothing after about how the fame affected him or how his kids reacted. That’s something I had wished to see especially since throughout the movie Gosling portrayed Armstrong as a pretty introverted guy.  

Also, between the Apollo mission and him finally seeing Janet, the crucial part of the landing was left out. The iconic splash and the cheers from the viewers and listeners at home wasn’t even mentioned.

While “First Man” will certainly win an award for Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy’s performances, I wonder if the movie itself lived up to the actual story.