First Man | Review: Lost Character Arcs

Great performances, sound design, soundtrack, visual effects and cinematography. What left me wanting more was Neil’s character arc, or lack thereof. The emotional action takes place at the beginning of the film and after Neil’s daughter dies his character development essentially flat lines and then continues to double down on that.

If anything the wife was the protagonist because she was one of the only characters who changed. Her love and support for Neil becomes shadowed by the separation and silence between them. Neil never talks about Karen, even with his wife. Neil’s work drives a wedge between them — as seen in the last shot of the film (Karen and Neil separated by glass).

Now, this very well may have been the point. So, I suppose it could be a larger debate on storytelling/character development. I would have liked to see more of a concrete 180 degree change in Neil or at least more conversation about his daughter. Even one scene with his wife could have made things a lot more interesting.

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