A career-best Ethan Hawke stars in cinematic legend Paul Schrader’s latest provocation, a compulsively watchable feast of brooding menace and pulpy thrills that won the Green Drop Award for environmental filmmaking at the Venice Film Festival.
In a remote part of upstate New York, Ernst Toller (Hawke), a reverend haunted by the death of his son, becomes inescapably drawn into the lives of new parishioners Michael (Phillip Ettinger) and Mary (Amanda Seyfried). The young couple’s marriage is being wrenched apart by Michael’s fixation on the coming environmental apocalypse and when Ernst realises the true depth of Michael's fervor, he is set on a path he never expected.
From revered filmmaker Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, Raging Bull) comes First Reformed, another discomfiting portrait of life on the American margins. Channelling the environmental anxieties of our modern age through his own inimitable lens – with overt references to Ozu, Bergman and Bresson (specifically, Diary of a Country Priest) – First Reformed is a giddy, tantalising reminder of the skills of one of America’s greatest auteurs.
"(Schrader's) best in a very long time ... this is a film of fascinating conversations, anchored by Hawke's completely genuine performance. We need more movies like it." – RogerEbert.com