From screenwriter Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, The Last Temptation of Christ, Affliction…), First Reformed consolidates the guilt and frustrations of decades of troubled protagonists into a single enraged priest, played with brilliant layers of guilt and discontent by Ethan Hawke. “It’s the best work in years for both men, a fascinating meditation on inner turmoil in which doing the right thing can lead down many wrong directions.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
A former military chaplain haunted by his son’s death in the Iraq War, the soft-spoken Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke) tends quietly to the First Reformed, an old abolitionist church. He is God’s clinically depressed man. Convinced that his true calling is an “all-consuming knowledge of the emptiness of all things,” at night he writes in his journal and drinks himself to sleep. And yet he is challenged to do something positive as he finds himself drawn into the life of a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) and her activist husband. Mary (Seyfried) is expecting her first child, but her husband Michael (Philip Ettinger) can find no justification for adding a new life to the planet, whose environmental demise he regards as imminent and catastrophic. As the reverend converses with the couple in the days leading up to the re-consecration of his church — which is being underwritten by an energy conglomerate — his faith and sense of purpose are tested. Directed with control and simplicity, the drama of Schrader’s film unfolds through undercurrents of uncontrollable emotions that threaten to break apart orderly life. The result is one of his most profound works in five decades. Yet this intelligent thriller is more than a look back; it is also rooted in the present in ways that will surprise and perhaps shock.
(USA / 2017 / Written & Directed by Paul Schrader)
R / 1 hr 48 mins.