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.