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First Reformed

Rated 14 Accompaniment (Disturbing Content, Gory Scenes) ~ Runs 113 minutes

Dir.: Paul Schrader, US

Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Philip Ettinger

“First Reformed finds Paul Schrader reworking Robert Bresson’s Diary Of A Country Priest for the age of the American megachurch, and coming up with his best film in decades. Back in his sweet spot of thoughtful alienation after more than a decade in the weeds, Schrader – the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and the director of Mishima, and Affliction, among others – wrestles with the weighty themes of faith, devotion and sacrifice. Like Martin Scorsese’s Silence, this film is the work of a man who’s spent a very long time thinking about these subjects... Ethan Hawke plays the Reverend Toller, an ailing, alcoholic priest tending to the diminishing congregation of an old church in upstate New York who finds himself drawn to a pregnant woman whose husband is in a deep despair over bringing a new life into what he sees as a dying world. Schrader bores into Toller’s tormented heart as he tries to minister to his flock while enduring his own profound suffering, and Hawke gives a magnificent performance in the role. In its consideration of the commercialization of evangelical Christianity for an audience that has no time for the teachings of Christ, First Reformed’s concerns are entirely of the moment – but its stark visual style feels classical, with Schrader building tension through stillness and formal compositions, focusing on Hawke’s agony until it feels like the screen will shatter. Something else happens instead, and it’s remarkable.” - Norman Wilner, Now Magazine. “First Reformed deserves all praise.” - Peter Howell, The Toronto Star



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October 14