Writer: Paul Schrader (Screenplay)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston
Plot: A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.
Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Hawke’s Powerhouse Performance
Story: First Reformed starts as we meet minster Toller (Hawke) who has a small congregation in the Fist Reformed church one with a big history about the celebrate an anniversary. One of the community Mary (Seyfried) is worried about her husband Michael (Ettinger) who has become worried about the future for their unborn child.
After the death of Michael, Toller starts looking into the climate change problems, believing he is getting ill, only to learn the truth about the local supply which has a connection must close to home.
Thoughts on First Reformed
Characters – Toller is a minster with a tragic past, he lost a son in war which saw his marriage end and his own problems coming to light. He turned to the bible which seems him getting a chance to help people who need it, he soon learns that his own health is getting worse and the problems in the world are starting to get to him. Mary is a pregnant woman who believes there is something wrong with her husband, she turns to Toller for help an he does all he can to help him through his problems, while she deals with life about to bring a child into the world. Jeffers runs the church in the area, he gave Toller the job and is always planning for investments to the church. Esther is the ex-wife who still works for the church, they do still support each other even if they have been through the problems of losing a child.
Performances – Ethan Hawke gives a career best performance here, he shines on so many levels, he will leave you feeling disturbed by what is going on, while also feel sympathetic to his situation. Amanda Seyfried, Ceric the Entertainer and Victoria Hill complete supporting cast and are good throughout the film.
Story – The story follows a minster who starts to question his faith and mortality when he learns who is behind the funding for his church, leading him to want to make a rash decision. If we are going to be honest about this story, we must admit that it will split the audience mostly because of how it ends, it won’t keep everyone going home saying wow, it will leave people going what happened, which is always going to put the audience off, sure we don’t always want to get spoon fed answers though. This does have plenty to focus on and does offer a big question about the future of mankind, what people will do to save it no matter what they do for a living.
Mystery – The mystery involved in the film comes from Toller learning the truth about what is going on and just what he will do about it.
Settings – The film is set in a small town in New York, it shows how businesses will operate around it and how the community will come together through the difficult times.
Final Thoughts – This is an interesting movie that has a brilliant performance from Hawke, it brings forward big questions while most of the film is interesting it could have a better conclusion.
Overall: Carried by the performance of Hawke.