Houston, we have awards season liftoff.
On Wednesday, the Damien Chazelle-directed space drama “First Man” received a glamorous welcome in Italy opening the Venice Film Festival.
As the Neil Armstrong biopic made its debut, gondolas were boarded, tuxes were donned (oh hey, Ryan Gosling!) and the critics got busy writing. So, do Chazelle and Gosling, who last teamed up together for 2016’s “La La Land,” have another Oscar-worthy film on their hands?
Here’s what the critics had to say.
The Hollywood Reporter declared the high-profile space film “sticks the landing.”
“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,’ ” wrote critic David Rooney. “Armstrong is depicted as a humble man, not a glory hound or daredevil in the usual heroic screen mode…(As Armstrong) 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.”
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Variety called “First Man,” which will be released ahead of the 50th anniversary of Armstrong’s moon walk, “a docudrama in the most authentic and exciting sense of the word.”
Ryan Gosling arrives for the opening ceremony and the
Ryan Gosling arrives for the opening ceremony and the premiere of the film “First Man,” presented in competition at the 75th Venice Film Festival.
“Chazelle knows that the story of the NASA space program has been told before (quite memorably, in its way, in ‘The Right Stuff’). So his audacious strategy is 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,” wrote critic Owen Gleiberman. “After seeing ‘First Man,’ it’s doubtful you’ll think about space flight, or Armstrong’s historic walk, in quite the same way.”
The review added: “Gosling gives a tricky, compelling performance that grows on you.”
Indiewire’s Michael Nordeen hailed “First Man” as “an anti-thriller of rare intensity, with lived-in performances from Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy heightening the sky-high drama at every turn. It’s not a comprehensive look at the Apollo 11 mission, but revisits that famous story from a more intimate angle, even as it delivers a satisfying ride.”
The Wrap predicted “space nerds will swoon” over the vintage NASA visuals. Critic Alonso Duralde termed Chazelle’s latest effort impressive, though he seemed less enthused by Gosling’s take on Armstrong, calling the actor “fine here, although Armstrong’s emotional armor mostly leaves the actor playing a variation on his character in ‘Drive.’