When Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) decides to counsel a radical and unstable environmentalist, he finds himself beginning to spiral out of control, tormented with his own past and doubting his faith and future.
About five minutes into First Reformed and I realized this was an intense way to start the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But make no mistake, First Reformed is a rare, sharp and thought-provoking drama that will put its viewers on a collision course with their own faith.
I’d be lying if I said this is an enjoyable watch. First Reformed is uncomfortable, unapologetic and speaks to our times in more ways than one can even imagine. It has moments of bleakness, however, its complexity and extremeness are what make First Reformed one of Paul Schrader’s best films.
This film would not have the same impact if it wasn’t for Ethan Hawke. His heartbreaking portrayal of Toller is gut-wrenching and unforgettable. This is without a doubt one of the best performances of the year and definitely best of Hawke’s career. He is destined for an Oscar nomination.
Final Thoughts: First Reformed is a tough, raw yet masterful film. This one will certainly leave you with more questions than answers and with a grand finale that will haunt you.