Directed by Paul Schrader. US. R. 1 hour 48 minutes. A24. Digital.
Sponsored by 2017
Fri., June 15, 2018 thru Thu., June 28, 2018
Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence.
“It’s a fierce film; Schrader, one of the crucial creators of the modern cinema (among his many achievements, he wrote “Taxi Driver” and directed “American Gigolo”), seems to have made it in a state of anger, passion, pain, mourning, and desire, held together by the conflicted religious fury—blending exaltation and torment—that runs through all of his films.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Greatness is often intertwined with insanity, and there’s no way to describe the finale of “First Reformed” as anything other than a dual act of extreme devotion and inspired lunacy. It surely wouldn’t work as well without Hawke, perfectly cast and doing career-best work.” – Keith Uhlich, The House Next Door
“…the film itself, shot in Academy ratio in the dead of winter, is quieter and more sensitive than anything else Schrader has directed, with Ethan Hawke giving one of his finest and most moving performances in the lead role.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club