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Past Films

First Reformed

  • Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer
  • Director: Paul Schrader
  • Genre(s): Drama, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 108 min.

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. [A24]

"Provocative and mesmerizing, 'First Reformed' is a film that demands to be seen."
- Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"'First Reformed,' a mesmerizingly austere drama of one man's apocalyptic crisis of faith, feels like the movie Paul Schrader was put on this planet to make."
- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"Hawke's performance is his most mature to date, a masterpiece of a man who cannot work himself out and yet is compelled to try. "
- John Bleasdale, CineVue
"A 'Taxi Driver' for the present day, with Hawke in a career-best performance."
- Rafer Guzman, Newsday
"An act of spiritual inquiry, a coolly assured example of cinematic scholarship in subtly deployed motion and one of the strongest pictures of 2018."
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"First Reformed is a stunner, a spiritually probing work of art with the soul of a thriller, realized with a level of formal control and fierce moral anger that we seldom see in American movies."
- Justin Chang, NPR
"A direct expression from the soul onto celluloid, unvarnished and uncompromised, and Schrader's best film in years."
- Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"An embittered look at our world through the eyes of someone who's increasingly horrified to be a part of it, and a film that's one of the most searing experiences of the year."
- David Sims, The Atlantic
"Paul Schrader offers one of the year's best movies-a faith-in-crisis powerhouse about a pastor -Ethan Hawke hitting a new career peak-who is politically awakened by an eco-activist and a new kind of love."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"This is a movie about faith tested, and people trying to reconcile hope with a world that can feel hopeless. It's a film to be seen in a dark theater with an audience hushed in reverence of the power of cinema."
- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
"Full of conviction, First Reformed feels like a lifetime of preoccupations and traumas distilled beautifully, accompanied with a haunting sparseness creating a profound deliverance. "
- Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
"After more than 20 features, Paul Schrader has been reborn with First Reformed, an unhurried, furious, deeply agonized look at faith and skepticism that’s as reverent as it is blasphemous. "
- Greg Cwik, Slant Magazine
"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, AV Club