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When asked about starring in First Reformed, Ethan Hawke said it’s the kind of role he would have never dared to audition for 10 years ago. This is coming from the same goatee icon who did Gattaca 22 years ago, and Training Day 18 years ago.
Needless to say that his performance in this movie is exceptional, and we hope that it will be rewarded with an Oscar. The film centers around his character, a reverend of a church in New York, who is trying to help a couple with marital issues (deciding the fate of a pregnancy). Instead, he uncovers a deeper story and becomes unexpectedly involved.
Religion intersects with ethical questions on activism, abortion, and environmental issues. I know that sounds like a lot, but First Reformed delivers on everything. The writing by Paul Schrader is delicate yet ensures that the movie keeps a gripping pace.
Hawke is amazing, no doubt, but I wish I had read this first, from the director’s Wiki page: “A recurring theme in Schrader’s films is the protagonist on a self-destructive path, or undertaking actions which work against himself, deliberately or subconsciously. The finale often bears an element of redemption, preceded by a painful sacrifice or cathartic act of violence.” Think Taxi Driver (which Schrader wrote) reimagined in a Protestant church in upstate NY, and you’ve got First Reformed. If you like films about tormented men hell bent on self-destruction, and endings that explain nothing, by all means watch this movie.
This film is the oddest film yet. I have to agree with JasonK. Watch at your own risk! I did however, understand the ending, and my b/f didn’t understand it, so I gather that it’s more geared to the female brain, but still! It’s wacked!
Pretentious does not begin to describe this movie. And the ending is utter nonsense. Watch at your own risk.