One woman versus a bunch of boys! An American tale.
Photo: Universal Studios.
Claire Foy doesn’t get to go to space in First Man, but does get to tell the men doing the space-going what’s what. It’s an imperfect compromise, yes, but it does give Foy’s furious, terrified Janet Armstrong an opportunity to take center stage in two of the movie’s strongest scenes. In one of these — a heated confrontation with NASA’s Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) — Foy snaps.
Her husband Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is somewhere in Earth’s atmosphere completing a test flight, and his spacecraft is on the fritz. A speaker she’s been given to hear his communication has been switched off by the engineers, and she won’t stand for it. She stomps down the halls of NASA and confronts the men her husband works with. “I’ve got a dozen cameras on my front lawn, Deke. Do you want me telling them what’s going on?” she says, her midwestern accent thick and heavy, her jaw clenched. Deke tries to subdue her, but she’s not having it. “All these protocols and procedures to make it seem like you have it under control. But you’re a bunch of boys making models out of balsa wood. You don’t have anything under control!” Those last two words are dripping with incredulous condescension — what’s Claire Foy supposed to do? Just wait there? Waiting for you to get your shit together?
But “a bunch of boys” is the movie’s real gem of a line. If you listen to Claire Foy saying “a bunch of boys” approximately 749 billion times — as I have, go ahead and fact-check me! — then you can hear all of the different vibrations her voice emits. Sometimes it sounds like she’s saying “a BunCH oF BOyS,” like the SpongeBob meme. Sometimes it sounds like “a bunch of boys,” like she’s reading a children’s book to a group of hyperactive first-graders, and is annoyed at the children and also the alliteration. Anyway: Claire Foy sneering out the insult — “You’re a bunch of boys!” — is the single most important moment Damien Chazelle has affixed to celluloid in his whole life, according to me, a credible source. Here is what it sounds like — nay, feels like — when Claire Foy delivers the line.
Claire Foy saying “a bunch of boys!!!” sounds like what it felt like to see Kristen Wiig play Amelia Earhart on Saturday Night Live. (This never happened, but if it did happen, Wiig would use one of those goofy, untraceable mid-Atlantic accents.)
Claire Foy talking back to Coach Eric Taylor (okay, fine, Kyle Chandler) is the closest we’ve gotten to having more episodes of Friday Night Lights.
It sounds like what it feels like to know that Beyoncé will raise the first Good Man.
It sounds like November 9, 2016, wasn’t the day Donald Trump was elected president, but instead was the day all of America’s women high-fived a million angels and welcomed President Michelle Obama to her first term.
If you hear Claire Foy say “boys” at just the right volume, she promises that Kanye will never open his mouth again, and if he does it will be to apologize, disown his Trump association, and promise that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will get a sequel.
Claire Foy saying “a bunch of boys” is a promise from Damien Chazelle that he will personally send every man to another planet far away from this one and that Ryan Gosling will be the Only Straight Man left, which, when you think about it, might be a pretty good deal, all things considered. (If we’re permitted to take requests, though, I would like to suggest Stanley Tucci.)
Claire Foy saying “a bunch of boys” put the Pussy Posse out of business, and put the Wolf Pack on notice!
Claire Foy says “a bunch of boys” with the strength and conviction of a white woman who wasn’t a part of the 53 percent of women who voted for Donald Trump. She’s accessing a lower octave.
This is a little known fact, but Vulture can exclusively report that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences tabled the popular film Oscar after they saw Claire Foy deliver the “bunch of boys” line and they realized that they were, in fact, a bunch of boys.
Every time Claire Foy says “a bunch of boys,” every man shifts uncomfortably in their seats, and that’s also something you can hear when she says it.
Claire Foy saying “a bunch of boys” is like if everyone in Hollywood promised that maybe there’d be a yearlong moratorium on men making movies or having leading speaking roles!
When Claire Foy said “a bunch of boys” on the set of First Man, the entire memory of Entourage was wiped from the minds of everyone on location that day.