October 12, 2018, 6:05 AM
Ryan Gosling does his best to dial down his star power in “First Man,” in which he plays astronaut Neil Armstrong with unsmiling reticence and stoicism. Based on James R. Hansen’s biography of the same name, this absorbing, meticulously detailed chronicle of Armstrong’s career — culminating with the Apollo 11 NASA mission, during which he became the first man to walk on the moon — continually undercuts the story’s inherent triumphalism and mythmaking. Like its protagonist, “First Man” doesn’t go in for theatrics or gratuitous emotion, however justified. It gets the job done, with professionalism, immersive authenticity and unadorned feeling, of which Armstrong himself might just have approved, however apprehensively.