“First Man” Biopic of Neil Armstrong Getting Rave Reviews

Entertainment Weekly reports the Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man” has received rave reviews following its debut at the Venice Film Festival.

“This is a strikingly intelligent treatment of a defining moment for America that broadens the tonal range of Chazelle, clearly a versatile talent, after Whiplash and La La Land,” writes The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney, further praising the film’s “refusal to engage in the expected jingoistic self-celebration” that celebrating Armstrong’s first-man-on-the-moon milestone could have registered.

“Gosling downplays his natural charisma here to portray a man simply intent on doing a job, approaching it with the utmost seriousness and without ego. Armstrong shows zero willingness to consider what he’s doing in any self-aggrandizing historical context, his taciturn demeanor proving frustrating to the press, who want uplifting soundbites. That makes the characterization almost antithetical to the standard Hollywood conception of a historically significant figure of this type,” he continues. “Instead, Gosling pulls you in on an intimate level, whether Neil is tackling life-or-death situations mid-mission or simply staring at the moon from his backyard, as if the distant image somehow holds the secret to a successful landing. It’s a subdued, almost self-effacing performance that nonetheless provides the drama with a commanding center.”

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw similarly heralds Gosling’s work, calling his lead performance one of “muscular intelligence and decency,” while pegging the film as a “mostly soaring” effort overall, and Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman similarly heralds the project as “turbulently spectacular” and a “docudrama in the most authentic and exciting sense of the word” through Chazelle’s “audacious strategy…. to make a movie so revelatory in its realism, so gritty in its physicality, that it becomes a drama of thrillingly hellbent danger and obsession.”

“First Man” is in U.S. theaters on Oct. 12.