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'First Man': Getting it Right

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Ryan Gosling stars in First Man. - MICHAEL LOCCISANO GETTY, FOR TIFF
  • Michael Loccisano Getty, for TIFF
  • Ryan Gosling stars in First Man.
Still reeling a bit from the thunderous ovations that greeted the premiere of First Man at the Toronto International Film Festival, Ryan Gosling said he was most concerned about the reaction from two men.

“The greatest challenge for me was that they were going to see this film when it was done,” Gosling told Boise Weekly following the TIFF premiere, stealing a glance across the room where Mark and Rick Armstrong were standing. “I often thought about their reaction.”

For the record, Mark and Rick Armstrong, sons of one of the most famous people in history, were more than happy.

COURTESY TIFF
  • Courtesy TIFF
“And I think both Mom and Dad would have been pleased,” said Rick. “Dad would have been focused on getting the history right. Mom would have been focused on getting the family right.”

Nodding his agreement, Mark added, “There’s a scene in the film when, at the height of all the craziness that surrounded dad being chosen to be the mission commander of Apollo 11. And a reporter asks him, at a nationally televised event, ‘How did you feel about being chosen to be the first man to walk on the moon.’ And dad simply states, ‘I was pleased.’ He had a gift for understatement, and that moment speaks to the authenticity of the film.”



To be sure, First Man is edge-of-your-seat thrilling. Spoiler alert: Armstrong does indeed walk on the moon. That said, the film is a thrilling, almost mystical embrace of what once inspired us to venture beyond our planet. But First Man’s greatest achievement is in its earthbound tale of an American family gripped with tragedy, and how an emotionally crippling event propelled Armstrong to seek solace and, quite possibly, some greater meaning of destiny beyond this world.

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