Oscar winner Damien Chazelle’s new Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man, lit up the Venice International Film Festival in Italy on Wednesday (29Aug18). The movie, starring the director’s La La Land leading man Ryan Gosling, earned a three minute standing…
Oscar winner Damien Chazelle’s new Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man, lit up the Venice International Film Festival in Italy on Wednesday (29Aug18).
The movie, starring the director’s La La Land leading man Ryan Gosling, earned a three minute standing ovation after its world premiere on the opening night of this year’s festivities.
Chazelle and Gosling returned to the Italian city just two years after gracing the red carpet to debut their Oscar-winning movie musical La La Land, and the response from critics for their new project has been just as favourable.
The film, in which Gosling portrays the late astronaut who became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969, is already receiving rave reviews, with many critics touting the picture as an early Oscars contender.
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman hails the film as “turbulently spectacular and enthralling”, while The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney praises Gosling for a “thoughtfully internalized performance”, and applauds Chazelle for delivering “emotional involvement, visceral tension” and suspense, as well as “stunning technical craft” in First Man.
During a press conference before the screening on Wednesday, Gosling admitted he had his work cut out as he researched Armstrong’s life, as the astronaut and qualified pilot was known for guarding his privacy.
“I’ve never had more help in my life on a film…,” he told reporters. “Whether it was Neil’s sons or his late ex-wife Janet or Neil’s sister, his childhood friends… NASA opened the door to the facilities.
“Neil was a very famously introspective, quiet, humble person, so the challenge was to honour that but also to create windows into what he might be or had been experiencing emotionally at the time.”
The actor even took a flying lesson to try and better understand his character – although he soon abandoned the idea after his instructor encouraged him to take the plane into a controlled stall.
“I thought what I should do was learn how to fly,” he shared, before adding, “I thought in that moment, ‘This is a terrible idea and there was a reason why Neil Armstrong was destined to be one of the greatest pilots and I’m not.’
“In that moment, I realised something about Neil. It’s a certain kind of person that will get into a plane and intentionally push it to its breaking point for the sole purpose of pushing our aeronautics forward.”
First Man, which co-stars Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, and Claire Foy, is among the top contenders for the Venice festival’s prestigious Golden Lion honour. It will compete against Joel and Ethan Coen’s new western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Paul Greengrass’ 22 July, Luca Guadagnino’s hotly anticipated horror remake Suspiria, Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican family drama Roma, and The Favourite, a period piece starring Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.
Director Guillermo del Toro will lead the main jury to decide the winners of the 75th annual event, which runs until 8 September (18).
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