First Reformed (2018) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Forty-six year old Reverend Ernst Toller is the pastor at the historic First Reformed Church in upstate New York. It is seen as the "tourist" church or the "souvenir shop" (its historical significance partly it being a stop on the underground railroad before the slaves crossed into Canada) by… Runtime: 113 min Release Date: 18 May 2018
A different take on the ending in particular... (by robertegblack)
First of all, a fantastic film, deliberate in its pacing, its performances, its visuals and even in its quite sparse sound design.Other reviews speak in greater detail about the themes and the 'plot' than I will here. What I want to talk about is the ending.So, SPOILERS:No, he doesn't go forward with the suicide bombing, which would have been a wonderfully dark, and explosive, finale for the slow burn of the rest of the film preceding it. But, also, I don't think he 'makes out with his girlfriend' as another reviewer put it. He wraps himself in barbed wire, an update <more>
on Christ's crown of thorns, and a well done visual, both graphic and slightly understated at the same time. And he pours that drano and then we get the 'Last Temptaion of Christ' moment. He DOES drink that drano and then in that moment of sacrificing himself-which will indeed be enough of a spectacle to draw public attention to the cause-he imagines or is rewarded with the vision of her coming to him. He imagines a happy ending and then he film cuts to black mid-scene because the drano has done its job. He has died. People will ask questions. The church's association with polluters will come to light.
I have to urge everyone I can to go see this movie while it's still in theaters. I have often wondered whether people who saw classics during their original releases recognized them in the moment; now I have to believe they do. Perhaps I'm mistaken - but I fully expect First Reformed to appear on many lists of greatest films in 30 years. Unfortunately it seems it will be tragically unappreciated until then.While viewers will no doubt recognize the references to other Schrader screenplays Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ , and the strong thematic resemblance to the Ingmar <more>
Bergman film Winter Light, this extraordinary story of a minister in the grip of a divine darkness deserves to be appreciated before being compared.A tight script and gorgeously bleak cinematography allow Ethan Hawke to explode onto the screen in nearly every scene. While the entire film is a rare gift of near-perfect execution, Hawke in particular displays tremendous expressiveness in his portrayal of a mind's slow unraveling. Hawke's Toller establishes the key theme early in the film: we're told that we must hold onto both despair and hope simultaneously. Toller's efforts to live this paradox lead him down a path of madness. As Michael played by Philip Ettinger makes quite clear, once the idea that despair is realism has taken hold, attempting to continue to live with hope feels at best insincere, at worst hypocritical, and Toller begins to see both of these attitudes at work in his community. This realism structures much of the film which is why the few moments it strays are so shocking , and necessitates Toller's downward spiral. At its worst, despair causes even genuine concern to appear to be insidious misdirection. What hope can one marry to this kind of despair? Only, Michael suggests, the hope of martyrdom. We discover that existential crises and sincere Christianity make quite the couple. Toller finds he must reject the cheerful face presented by contemporary Christianity, but as an alternative he can find only the Garden and the Cross. The careful logic of it draws us in; it's difficult to see where Toller goes wrong. Is there room for any real hope in this life? Can God forgive us, or must we find redemption ourselves? Toller, it seems, will be lucky to find the answers he seeks.
A thoughtful, scathing critique of the modern American church (by michaeldixon-56041)
Https://dixonsbl0g.blogspot.com/2018/05/new-movie-review-first-reformed.htmlFirst Reformed is a thoughtful, scathing critique of the modern American church. As someone who has spent a significant portion of his life inside a church, this film deeply resonated with me. The church's blatant hypocrisy and inability to recognize its glaring flaws are major themes of this bold analysis of religious culture.Writer/director Paul Schrader Taxi Driver, Raging Bull tells the story of Reverend Ernst Toller played magnificently by Ethan Hawke , a retired Army chaplain who has recently lost his son <more>
after convincing him to enlist. His wife leaves shortly thereafter, and Toller quits the army. Running from his guilt, he becomes the pastor of the historic First Reformed Church, which functions as more of a museum than a place of worship. Toller spends more time as a tour guide than a spiritual guide. First Reformed is owned by a nearby megachurch called Abundant Life, which uses the small, declining church as nothing more than a way to generate extra cash by selling souvenirs to passing tourists.One Sunday, a woman approaches Toller and asks him to speak with her husband, a troubled environmental activist consumed with despair over the earth's inevitable doom. Toller is sympathetic to the man's concerns but feels powerless to enact change. When he speaks to the pastor at Abundant Life played by Cedric the Entertainer , his assumptions are confirmed. Despite Toller's assertions about climate science and the Biblical mandate to care for the earth, the pastor refuses to listen. Not only will the church fail to acknowledge the legitimacy of climate change, it will also continue to support powerful polluters in exchange for donations.Schrader exposes the flaws of most Protestant churches though his depiction of Abundant Life. One of these flaws is the inability to understand and empathize with differing viewpoints. There are hundreds, if not thousands of Protestant denominations in America today. If a churchgoer disagrees with the official church stance on even one point of doctrine, leadership typically responds by explaining that he is not allowed to state his rogue opinion to other members. If he doesn't like that restriction, he is free to leave.This "my way or the highway" attitude toward minor dogmatic issues has created an incredibly fragmented religion. Each individual church is filled with like-minded members who never encounter people with different perspectives. This atmosphere creates church members and church leaders who are incapable of intelligently debating complex issues. They believe what they believe because everyone around them believes it too. Alternate opinions seem ridiculous because they are not held within the church bubble.Additionally, the Protestant church has essentially become a propaganda arm of the Republican Party over the last fifty years. Corporations, politicians, and lobbyists make donations, and churches tell their congregations that Jesus wants them to vote Republican. The obvious contradictions between Jesus' teachings and the Republican goal of preserving the socioeconomic power of white men at the expense of other demographic groups are mostly imperceptible to church members because everyone around them believes that Christians have to be Republican.These two huge problems at Abundant Life create a hostile environment for Toller and his liberal concerns. Cinematographer Alexander Dynan uses a 4:3 aspect ratio and stationary camera shots to create the feeling that the viewer is peeking through a window into Toller's psyche. As he struggles to find anyone at the church with whom he can relate, he falls deeper into the depression and loneliness already present from his son's tragic death.A church is a lonely place for someone looking to enact change. Anyone who may have shared Toller's beliefs has either moved to a different church or, more likely, left the church altogether. Toller feels like the only sane person in the congregation - the only one who can see the cliff over which the blind pastors are leading their sheep.There is an eery lack of music throughout most of the film, building a suspenseful dread as Toller sinks deeper into his own mind. His unfurnished house seems to be the physical manifestation of Toller's mental state. His only furniture in the decently sized home consists of a twin bed, a table and a chair or two. Whiskey appears to be the only thing stocked in the kitchen, and he partakes at every opportunity. He is completely unprepared to host any guests, as if he is actively discouraging others from interacting with him. The only activity he engages in while at home is writing down his thoughts in his journal. Unable or unwilling to find anyone with whom to discuss his concerns, he is forced to mull over them obsessively.As the film progresses, Toller becomes less and less hopeful that the church is capable of change. He is forced to confront his faith and determine how his disagreement and frustration with the church will affect the path of his life.Schrader's portrayal of the church is bleak and fatalistic, but it is largely accurate. His impeccable filmmaking sheds light on systemic problems that must be addressed. I hope the film inspires some within the church to take action and fight to realign the institution with Jesus' teachings. However, it is much more likely that the film's message falls on the same deaf ears that are incapable of hearing Toller's cries for help.
One not to miss. The priest personifies the world's intense conflicts between the unstoppable forces of destruction our planet, our relationships, the consequences of the Iraq war, the brutality of corporate polluters, slavery, churches more attuned to materialism than spirituality and the receding forces of gentleness, compassion, prayers. This isn't a religious movie, though profoundly spiritual. It reminded me of Dostoyevsky, Camus and the anguish of existing in a universe so corrupted that even the thought of bringing a child seems like a sin to his father. Both Ethan Hawke and <more>
Amanda Seyfried are amazing to watch. And my admiration to Paul Schrader..
Ingmar Bergman's Winterlight - UPDATED by Paul Schrader (by greatsewing1)
Apparently, I am the oldest person commenting on this extraordinary film to recognize that the plot, characters, and pacing can all be traced back to Ingmar Bergman's Winterlight, Yes, Paul Schrader has created a great new original film but we must recognize its sources and failure to do so leaves us withering. You will not have to see Ingmar Bergman's original to appreciate this film, but the fact that so much comes from that film makes it weird to me that no one has recognized it so far. Beautifully executed, gorgeously shot and accomplished acting all contribute to the <more>
effectiveness of this film. It may seem a little shallow to some, but it is very worthwhile.
I don't want God's forgiveness... I want his help! (by Kings_Requiem)
'First Reformed' is an extremely challenging film. Maybe the most challenging that I've seen. I expected nothing less from Paul Schrader, though, as he's written and directed a lot of challenging stuff over the years. It's slow, methodical and exacting. It asks important questions but does not give any easy answers or answers in general for that matter ...Ethan Hawke's performance at the epicenter of this film really is a towering achievement. It's the kind of performance that will do down as not only one of the best of the year, but this will be remembered most <more>
likely as his career best. Ernst Toller is a man struggling internally with immense pain and turmoil. The loss of his only child has caused his marriage to fall apart so he has since turned to the Lord for whatever form of relief he can find. Nothing will ever take away that pain, but he's at least been able to somewhat cope with it over the years...though he has never really found true peace or happiness and has since turned to the bottle like most men seem to for solace. He writes in a journal every day as a form of self prayer or maybe just a way to put his ruinous thoughts down on paper instead of keeping them bottled up where they could potentially do more harm. A meeting with a local man one day where a multitude of different end-of-the-world topics are discussed ends up leading the Reverend down a rabbit-hole of immense consequences. All of which cause Toller to question his commitment to God and the Church. He's the pastor of a small local church that are all but extinct now and every city is being overrun with these massive churches. Faith has become a spectacle run by mostly phonies who only care about the bottom-line instead of the people and the close-knit community - another thing that frustrates him. Ethan Hawke is able to quietly walk this emotional tightrope the entire film and never allows him to fall into any histrionics. Amanda Seyfried takes on the important role of Mary one of only 2 main female roles and she delivers her best performance as well. Mary becomes a integral part of the Reverend's life as they're able to help each other through these difficult times...although it can be kinda hard to see what ways she really helps him. Cedric "The Entertainer" Kyles also shows up along the way as the pastor of the big conglomerate church who, despite good intentions, is probably doing more harm than good.I feel like it really demands to be seen whether you're a person of faith or not. This is definitely not your typical Christian film and that's probably gonna upset a lot of people, but this one and Schrader have more lofty ideas and weighty themes on their mind. This is a very dense screenplay which leads to a heavy film that expects a lot from the audience. Paul Schrader isn't letting anyone off the hook easily here...he's being patient and letting the film open up at its own pace. This is also the kind of film that doesn't divulge all of its secrets in one sitting...it expects you to come back to it and soak it all in over multiple viewings - which with a film of this ilk you should probably do anyway.Paul Schrader and company have created something wholly unique and special with 'First Reformed' and I think it's definitely something to be valued. So if you're in the mood for something a little different and don't mind your movies making you think, then please give it a chance!
Thought-Provoking, Unsettling Character Study (by bastille-852-731547)
Paul Schrader's new drama "First Reformed" is a drama about a grieving reverend who is counseling a couple--the husband of which is a radical environmentalist. This is a talky, dialogue- driven, and unsettling thriller that makes you both empathize with its characters as well as send a chill down your spine at times.The film's deeply intellectual and serious commentary on matters of religion and environmentalism is profound and thoughtful. This movie will likely not be suited for mainstream audiences desiring cheap entertainment, but serious viewers looking to be challenged <more>
in their thought processes will have much material to ponder during--and after--they view the movie. The acting is very strong, as Schrader commands his cast into giving low-key but quietly powerful and resonant performances. The standouts in the cast are Ethan Hawke's lead role as well as Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer in the supporting cast. A gripping, dark almost relentlessly so at times tone keeps the viewer engrossed in the film. While this isn't a horror film despite containing disturbing content and moments, the film's simple score is incredibly chilling and gets under one's skin more than almost any other film's score I have witnessed in a long time.My only complaints about this film are found in the third act. A dreamlike, surrealistic scene inspired by impressionism that involves the protagonist and Seyfried's character feels out of place given the grim tone deeply rooted in realism. Additionally, a quick and highly abrupt cut in the film's finale feels disappointing and almost like the equivalent of a 'cop-out' in film editing. It did not positively impact how I viewed the film's ending. But other than these concerns, this is a very well-made and serious drama designed to quietly shock audiences into a state of reflection on the world today as we know it. 8/10
Should a modern priest follow Jesus's way or the Church's interests? (by ciaofrancesca)
First Reformed presents a true account of modern times. The protagonist, a relatively young priest, is faced with the dilemma of either following the word of Jesus or welcoming the economic benefits that being complacent with a polluting international company will bring to his church. The film is full of profound thoughts, which are very true about the aim of institutions, their core purpose and the difficulty in having a wisdom capable of balancing and believing in the coexistence of opposing values, at the same time. There is also a subtle critique about the "new age" or "new <more>
economy" philosophy of optimism and abundance, at all costs, as if belonging to such groups could provide the adept with a magic pill that relives from thinking about modern injustices and global challenges.
'Taxi Driver' meets Christianity in character piece of Academy Award-worthy proportions (by littlemankazoo)
In terms of stories of religion and faith, it is not very often that I see ones that present me with an interesting story that shows a quandary of beliefs. It is also not often that I see stories of religion and faith that feature a character and performance that is on-par with that of Travis Bickle from 'Taxi Driver'.In 'First Reformed', I got both, and it is absolutely enthralling.Ethan Hawke stars as Reverend Holler, a man of strong religious beliefs that gets caught in the crossfire of a changing world, both in the realm of the church and of business. Thus, he spirals-into <more>
an inner turmoil that threatens to break more than just himself.'First Reformed' pits the world of the church and Christianity of a yesteryear against the world of religion now, which is just as full of its own questionable pitfalls as classical religion is viewed to hold. Now, personally, I lack a horse in this battle of ethics.At the same time, however, the subject was so intriguing to behold as the main conflict and themes of this intriguing story of 'religion-gone-Taxi Driver' that I couldn't help but stay deeply-entrenched in the conflict we see Ethan Hawke's character in.Classical vs. Modern. Mega-churches vs. Traditionalist churches. Man vs. Society. We see all these conflicts unfold within 'First Reformed' and its tightly-packed run-time.All the while, this conflict is portrayed in pitch-perfect fashion by Ethan Hawke, who delivers what I can only describe as his greatest performance of his career. His is truly next-level in this film, and I cannot describe enough to you about how captivating it is to watch Hawke in this film. He is spectacular in this, and an early frontrunner for the Academy Award without a doubt in my mind.This film is not without its own bundle of flaws, to be fair. Certain sequences me made question the intent and decisions made by director Paul Schrader, and the ending itself is something I'm still not terribly sure I agree with in terms of its content. However, these flaws are not truly enough to take away from how much I abundantly enjoyed the majority of this film.In the end, this film is all about faith. Faith being challenged. Faith being destroyed by a changing society around you. Faith's duality in man. Ultimately, the film is about Faith, and how Hope and Despair are ultimately intertwined in such an unsure and changing time in our world.In the world of film, the tales of religion vary from spectacular to the mundane. In this case, I feel it falls somewhere on the higher end. While not spectacular, 'First Reformed' is certainly one of the best pieces of film that 2018 has had to offer thus far.Once it hits wider release, you should definitely check it out. I guarantee the faith you put in it will be worth it~