First Reformed – Movie Review

Official Synopsis:

A priest of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.

Review Summary:

First Reformed is a slow, methodical drama starring Ethan Hawke as a priest dealing with a crisis of conscience. When he speaks with a troubled environmentalist, he unwittingly begins concerning himself with the dealings of a neighboring church and a local company.

Paul Schrader is no stranger to focusing on characters with something eating away at them. His screenplay for Taxi Driver proves that. But here, he takes the helm as well, crafting an intriguing drama with an outstanding performance from Hawke. It also uses the old-fashioned aspect ratio of 1.37:1, complete with opening credits in cursive font. This made the film feel more regal.

The film often moves so slowly, it becomes uncomfortable. This shouldn’t be perceived as a fault. On the contrary, a feeling of uneasiness crept in, one that remained as the abrupt ending credits began to roll.

While the film sometimes stretches credibility with its depiction of modern-day religion, never was its message nullified by this. And with a film this brave, that’s to be commended.

Grade: B+

Directed by: Paul Schrader

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer

MPAA Rating: Rated R for some disturbing violent images

Run Time: 113 min

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