Two years ago, Damien Chazelle's La La Land opened the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Last night, the same honor was given to his new film First Man, which tells the story of how Neil Armstrong, played by Chazelle's leader, Ryan Gosling, became the first astronaut to step on the moon.
For a storyteller, even one as smart as Chazelle can be a challenge when the audience knows how the drama ends. After all, few citations have a greater claim to immortality than "a small step for man, a giant leap for humanity".
However, First Man, based on an acclaimed 2005 biography, continues to develop into a captivating and suspenseful thriller, which tells the story of Armstrong's family life with a powerful buzz of greater intensity.
Claire Foy, as wonderful as the Queen in Netflix's The Crown series, is no less good in the role of consort here at First Man (photographed at the Venice Film Festival)
Early in his career, he and his wife Janet (superbly played by Claire Foy) lost a two-year-old daughter, Karen, to a brain tumor.
In what is essentially an account of a remarkable triumph that makes epoch, death looms terrifyingly large. Not only Karen's, but also that of several of Armstrong's fellow pilots and astronauts.
If three of them had not died in a fire in a flight simulator in 1967, it probably would not have been the first man on the moon. Some families paid a catastrophic price for the victory in the so-called space race against the Soviet Union.
Chazelle and his screenwriter Josh Singer do not overlook these tragedies. On the contrary, they use them to inform the characters of Armstrong and his insensitive, spiky colleague, Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll).
First Man, tells the story of how Neil Armstrong, played by Damien Chazelle's leader, Ryan Gosling, became the first astronaut to tread the moon.
The first is in mourning for his friends deeply, but he can rationalize their deaths with a simple observation: "We have to fail here so we do not fail there."
He emerges as an introvert, his emotions as tightly bottled as his oxygen supply.
There is a brilliant scene, on the eve of the Apollo 11 expedition, in which Janet forces him to sit down with his two small children, to tell them that he could not go home.
But this extraordinarily brave and ingenious man avoids the challenge. It's not rocket science, which is precisely the problem. He addresses his children as if it were a press conference.
For a storyteller, even one as smart as Chazelle can be a challenge when the audience knows how the drama ends
By then, the film has followed a careful chronological journey through the sixties. Draw the political background, with some at the Congress railing at the expense of rockets, and civil rights activists complaining about unclear priorities, but their main focus is on the main steps in Armstrong's career at NASA.
It has some narrow loopholes and no one sums up the experimental, sometimes almost rudimentary nature of the EE space program. UU., More crudely than his wife Janet. & # 39; You're a bunch of guys who make models with balsa wood & # 39 ;, get angry with Armstrong boss, Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler).
Foy, as wonderful as the Queen in Netflix's The Crown series, is no less well in the role of consort here. It's a big part of support, but even so, I'd bet, on the issue of the award nominations.
In addition, he shares many of the best moments of the film, such as when he tells his son that his father will go to the moon. & # 39; OK & # 39 ;, answer. & # 39; Can I get out? & # 39;
Chazelle makes much of the contrast between terrestrial domesticity and Armstrong's adventures in space, cutting repeatedly between the two, until the climactic moment of the film arrives, the July 1969 landing.
It is painstakingly reconstructed, beautiful and movingly imagining what really happened behind the large amount of television that we all know so well.
It is a sensational ending to an impressive film, which will surely boost its director, who is still 33 years old, but already with La La Land and the deceived Whiplash in his honor, in the Hollywood stratosphere.
First Man opens in the United Kingdom on October 12.