“First Reformed” is probably the best film about hope released in the last few years. Sorry, popcorn cinema kids who can only make it to the theater when Lucasfilm deems it necessary. For a film that could’ve gone dark and stayed dark, Schrader seems to be softening in his old age. I’m not sure if it’s a desire to highlight Amanda Seyfried more, but she functions as more than her end result. Honestly, it plays as a way to sell a Bergman tale in the modern era.

Temptation abounds, as we have a distraught Priest looking to do his best. His congregation, limited friends and other well-wishers bounce in and out of his chaotic life. All the while, he looks out at a changing world that gets further and further away from God. The idea to slip into religious extremism is there, but Hawke’s character keeps rejecting it. Yet, he knows it will get the result he wants. However, he finds hesitation every time he looks at Seyfried’s pregnant congregant.

If you’re a teen or a college aged kid that wants to see serious cinema, you’re going to miss the point of what comes next. Not every dark tinged film is about pushing into the envelope into the extreme. Hell, I’d say it takes more work to lean away from harsh action. The fact that Ethan Hawke makes you believe in this change is stunning. Solid work all around.


  • 1 hr and 53 mins
  • R
  • A24


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