A24 | Release Date: May 18, 2018
7.5
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Generally favorable reviews based on 177 Ratings
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7
amheretojudgeAug 1, 2018
an apotheosis of humane emotions..

First Reformed 3 And A Half Out Of 5 First Reformed is a character driven dramatic take on the repercussions that good and bad deeds leads to and has led to. The tone of the feature is poignant and dark
an apotheosis of humane emotions..

First Reformed

3 And A Half Out Of 5

First Reformed is a character driven dramatic take on the repercussions that good and bad deeds leads to and has led to. The tone of the feature is poignant and dark that endorses its concept and is palpable to it throughout the course of the feature. The metaphorical cinematography and eerie d.o.p. helps lure in the audience and keep them intrigued in its pathos bubble and rooting for its pragmatic characters. The production design is neat, finely detailed and pleasing to encounter along with its stunning camera work. The emotions drawn out from the characters does communicate where the performance and execution plays a vital role along with a narrative element inserted as a habitual diary writing. The background score is edited and polished aptly and is also wisely absent at times, leaving the audience with an experience of listening a clock tick which frankly it has been a while since I encountered in a feature.

An unhealthy state and few cringe worthy moments are not only inedible and powerful but beautifully poetic that speaks volume in here. The writing is sharp, adaptive and gripping with thought-provoking policies that never grows pretentious and is instead kept subtle. Paul Schrader; the writer-director, has done an excellent work on executing and pulling off such an obscure world. As mentioned earlier, Ethan Hawke is achingly good and deserves all the praise for its majestic performance where he is supported decently by Amanda Seyfried. Schrader's world is helpless in here since the work is drawn out from each and every step and character which is more appalling and dark than its concept. Few mellow monologues, its slow yet impactful character development and soothing little tactics to sweeten the moments are the high points of the feature. First Reformed is an apotheosis of humane emotions whose subjective procedure makes worth its final product.
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2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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10
katezoeAug 25, 2018
Another amazing film by Paul Schrader and his direction is pitch perfect. Incredible acting by Ethan Hawke. One of the best movies of the year.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
MattBrady99Sep 3, 2018
"There goes my head"

whoa.... It's strange, two years ago Paul Schrader made the most convoluted movie of his career with 'Dog Eat Dog', then make something so masterful like this. Anywhere... 'First Reformed' is easily one of my favorite
"There goes my head"

whoa....

It's strange, two years ago Paul Schrader made the most convoluted movie of his career with 'Dog Eat Dog', then make something so masterful like this. Anywhere...

'First Reformed' is easily one of my favorite movies of 2018. Absolutely captivating from start till finish. A strong character study on faith and pain. An Excellent performances from Ethan Hawke, who's facial expressions and his tried voice says so much about the character. You're just waiting for his frustration to explode. Also, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, and Philip Ettinger were all superb.

My only issues with the film is it's main message about the environment, which got a little heavy handed after awhile, to the point where you're just thinking "OK, I get it". I mean, when you get a scene involving stock footage of nature and power stations while Hawke and Seyfried are on top with each other. But that's really it for complaints. Enough of that, back to the positives.

The writing is fantastic, of course not surprising coming from Paul Schrader. The cinematography is stunning. You get a lot of wide shots, close ups, and plenty of emptiness and space around our priest. There's literally a shot in this movie that's taken straight from 'Taxi Driver'.

Disclaimer: You are not prepared for the ending. Trust me.

Overall rating: My hands shake as I write this.
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1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
johnem95Aug 4, 2018
Haunting, heavy, and thought-provoking, yet, a dash hopeful (if you choose to view it that way). Terrific performances turned in by Hawke and Seyfried. One of the year's best films.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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10
DavidWasHereAug 22, 2018
Paul Schrader is best known as a writer than he is as a director, best known for his work with Martin Scorsese writing the screenplays for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, the Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out the Dead. And while he hasPaul Schrader is best known as a writer than he is as a director, best known for his work with Martin Scorsese writing the screenplays for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, the Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out the Dead. And while he has continued to work, he has not made a movie outside of the shadows of the former two films. First Reformed might as well be that shot of acclaim. What Paul Schrader did is make a breathtaking examination of depression and salvation.

The first thing that is striking is the atmosphere, creating an ambient tone of quiet and grey, symbolizing the state of mind of the main character. All of which matched by the amazing cinematography Alexander Dynan. The movie has a unique framing, being shot in 16:9, or fullscreen. I'm not sure why exactly, but Schrader made it works regardless. The acting is also great too, with Ethan Hawke giving what might be his best performance of his career, definitely worth an Oscar (or at least a nomination), with Amanda Seyfried and Cedric Kyles (a.k.a. Cedric the Entertainer) delivering some fantastic supporting roles.

I feel like one of the most divisive aspects of the film is the reoccurring environmental messages. I will admit it can be preachy, however I don't really mind because the movie is more about depression and a deconstruction of salvation and God. It's brilliant with how Schrader uses God with the examination of hopelessness and the feeling of regret and betrayal in the backdrop of serious issues that really compliments what is going on. Also more of a nitpick but I wish the movie was entirely set in silence than having an ambient score that doesn't really show up a lot, but it did it's job well enough so I can't complain.

Overall, First Reformed is a brilliant movie that is powerful in it's unsettling deconstruction of the Church. It's hard to watch, but one that you won't forget!
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1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
FelicityFenwickAug 16, 2018
I haven't been this floored by the last 2 minutes of a movie since Enemy. Ethan Hawke is the greatest. I'd pay to watch the guy read the paper.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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10
DrBlahBlahDec 10, 2018
The best film of 2018, First Reformed captures our precarious time like no other - it's both urgent and patient, contemplative and intense, beautifully shot and scripted, with a fantastic performance from Ethan Hawke.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
JLuis_001Aug 15, 2018
This is definitely Ethan Hawke's best performance since Before Midnight, although Born to Be Blue is also a good starting point.

But definitely the actor without taking risks - which are not necessary - delivers a solid, emotional and
This is definitely Ethan Hawke's best performance since Before Midnight, although Born to Be Blue is also a good starting point.

But definitely the actor without taking risks - which are not necessary - delivers a solid, emotional and sensitive performance with which undoubtedly becomes the strongest reason to watch this film. There are other good interventions, especially from Amanda Seyfried, but the film belongs completely to Hawke.

The story is simple but penetrating and intense. A look at depression in a daily routine centered on the thoughts of the character of Hawke: a tormented priest who decides to translate into a diary everything that happens to him, in scenes that work as excellent internal monologues about his mental state.

It's dark and also a bit ambiguous, especially the ending but it's a pretty good film and another success for A24.
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1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
AndrewBurgeAug 22, 2018
Bleak, patient and narrative, 'First Reformed' is one hell of a tough film to review. It hides away from you in an attempt to elevate its art to near poetry. And it succeeds. Writer/director Paul Schrader teams up with Ethan Hawke, who givesBleak, patient and narrative, 'First Reformed' is one hell of a tough film to review. It hides away from you in an attempt to elevate its art to near poetry. And it succeeds. Writer/director Paul Schrader teams up with Ethan Hawke, who gives the performance of his career as Reverend Ernst Toller, a small town priest whose faith is put to the test, having his doubts manifested in a riveting, albeit tame manner.

The script is dominated by a beautiful narrative. Toller indulges in an experiment to keep a journal for a year and then destroy it. We get the impression he is looking for closure, and very soon we find out why. He suffers from a disease which is never fully shown to us, but given the fact that he urinates blood and that he can barely stand, it must be bad. This is the weird but brilliant structure of the narrative. It says a lot, but it never disclosures more than it needs to. Schrader does not use it to advance the plot, but rather to engulf us deeper into the mind of Ernst Toller, who constantly grapples with faith, isolation, regret and despair in the modern world.

Despair, most of all. One of the very first scenes includes a captivating discussion between him and Michael (Philip Ettinger), a troubled environmentalist who lost his faith in society. He babbles continuously about an environmental fallout and his wife, Mary (Amanda Seyfried) called the reverend to help him. This scene is especially captivating as it is the first one where we witness Schrader's incredibly bleak and silent cinema. It is too quiet in there. A quiet which is brilliantly maximized by the beating of the clock.

This bleakness spreads through the entire picture, which is accompanied by no music, except occasional crescent rumbles, often accompanied by beautiful and depressing shots of industrialism. It also helps that this film was filmed in a classic 4:3 aspect ratio which, at first, I found irrelevant, but it offers some truly picturesque imagery.

So, while 'First Reformed' might be a bit controlling and chastised, it is mind bending, slightly shocking and purgatorial.
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1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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10
JakobkrossAug 12, 2018
First Reformed is solid gold. The film is striking on a visual level because every shot is rich with balance, depth and artful levels of symmetry, despite the fact that the film is presented in an unusual aspect ratio, it pulls its viewers inFirst Reformed is solid gold. The film is striking on a visual level because every shot is rich with balance, depth and artful levels of symmetry, despite the fact that the film is presented in an unusual aspect ratio, it pulls its viewers in with nonstop beautiful photography. Meanwhile, a thought-provoking story unfolds with some of the best acting I've seen in awhile. The entire cast (from Hawke to Seyfried to Cedric Kyles) delivers fantastic performances.

First Reformed's fantastic qualities combined into an experience that is more than a movie, it is a piece of art. If you like technique, you will love First Reformed.

Writing: 9/10 Direction: 10/10 Cinematography: 10/10 Acting: 10/10 Editing: 9/10 Casting: 10/10
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1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
JamesNJun 21, 2018
This isn't a movie that's going to appeal to a mass audience. If you are looking to be cheered up -- or a date movie -- this isn't the film to go to. But if you like thoughtful movies with suspense, good dialogue and meaning, you should like it.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
Slovenly_MuseAug 14, 2018
A film about religion that is not interested in taking sides, or speaking only to the devout or the atheistic. May seem a bit slow at first, but as the film goes on it becomes clear that not a single moment is wasted. It is an intricatelyA film about religion that is not interested in taking sides, or speaking only to the devout or the atheistic. May seem a bit slow at first, but as the film goes on it becomes clear that not a single moment is wasted. It is an intricately formed bundle of connections truly impressive in its construction. A study in contradictions, First Reformed teaches us how to live in the place where despair and hope are perfectly balanced. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
MarcDoyleMay 20, 2018
Outstanding film - Ethan Hawke at the peak of his powers. And Cedric is really good in this serious role. It's a little out there, but I enjoyed the pacing - the directing is immaculate.
5 of 6 users found this helpful51
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10
The3AcademySinsMay 27, 2018
First Reformed is a near perfect offering from cinematic master Paul Schrader, and another notch on the belt for the impressive studio A24. Despair, hope, faith, isolation, and social decay are all explored to their fullest depths in aFirst Reformed is a near perfect offering from cinematic master Paul Schrader, and another notch on the belt for the impressive studio A24. Despair, hope, faith, isolation, and social decay are all explored to their fullest depths in a manner that is perfect for audiences in 2018. This might be Ethan Hawke's best performance as an actor. Amanda Seyfried is also incredible, and Cedric the Entertainer also busts out some fine acting chops. There truly is not a weak link in the cast, even among the minor characters.

The script is a slow-burning engine that drives it's way home. You'll be really emotionally effected by First Reformed. If you are a fan of serious film, this is a must-see. I'll be genuinely surprised if Hawke and Schrader don't get nominations at this year's Academy Awards.
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4 of 5 users found this helpful41
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9
BeastJ18Jun 11, 2018
When I saw this in Rotterdam, it did not sit with me well for the beginning of the movie. However, as the plot started to build and the impact of the story and film language started to become clear, this film did not disappoint. The beauty inWhen I saw this in Rotterdam, it did not sit with me well for the beginning of the movie. However, as the plot started to build and the impact of the story and film language started to become clear, this film did not disappoint. The beauty in the cinematography and editing really cement this first as an early front-runner for award season. Expand
3 of 4 users found this helpful31
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9
AugustKellerJun 4, 2018
First Reformed is solid gold. The film is striking on a visual level because every shot is rich with balance, depth and artful levels of symmetry; despite the fact that the film is presented in an unusual aspect ratio, it pulls its viewers inFirst Reformed is solid gold. The film is striking on a visual level because every shot is rich with balance, depth and artful levels of symmetry; despite the fact that the film is presented in an unusual aspect ratio, it pulls its viewers in with nonstop beautiful photography. Meanwhile, a thought-provoking story unfolds with some of the best acting we’ve seen from each elite performer. The entire cast (from Hawke to Seyfried to Cedric Kyles) delivers fantastic performances that are essential in bringing the chilling messages of the film home.

The story is expectedly spiritual and surprisingly political. The pace of the film is deliberate and switches seamlessly between snapshots and extended takes. The scoring slowly builds its ominous tone and the effects are tastefully done. Every aspect of First Reformed is built with intention that serves its sobering themes. Ultimately, First Reformed‘s elite qualities combined into an experience that is more than a movie, it is a piece of art. If you like technique, you will love First Reformed.

Writing: 9/10
Direction: 10/10
Cinematography: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Editing: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Score/Soundtrack: 9/10
Production Design: 8/10
Casting: 10/10
Effects: 8/10

Overall Score: 9.1/10

Original Article: https://thefilmguys.blog/reviews/augusts-reviews/first-reformed-2018/
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3 of 4 users found this helpful31
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10
GinaKJun 1, 2018
I have to be careful not to give away the plot of “First Reformed” since the “journey of the soul” of the Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is the plot. That is not to say that you have to be religious to enjoy this film. The characterI have to be careful not to give away the plot of “First Reformed” since the “journey of the soul” of the Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is the plot. That is not to say that you have to be religious to enjoy this film. The character study is engrossing even if you aren’t a religious person at all. To say that Toller is in despair is an understatement and this is made worse by one of his parishioners, an environmentalist, who commits suicide in despair about his ability to help the environment just as Toller seems to feel he is not helping anyone, including himself. The former parishioner also leaves Toller the means to kill himself and make his own statement. Toller makes a tough choice, and I won’t reveal what it is, but I think you will be moved by this powerful film and the deeply felt character brought to life by Ethan Hawke. Expand
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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8
moviemitch96Jun 8, 2018
A highly thought-provoking and intellect-stimulating film. Ethan Hawke gives a career-best here as far as I'm concerned and writer/director Paul Schrader is in top form as well. Overall, apart from some questionable moments and an ambiguousA highly thought-provoking and intellect-stimulating film. Ethan Hawke gives a career-best here as far as I'm concerned and writer/director Paul Schrader is in top form as well. Overall, apart from some questionable moments and an ambiguous ending that I'm honestly still thinking about and trying to process, this is a pretty interesting film with lots on its mind and lots of unique and insightful ways of expressing it all. Expand
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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9
Brent_MarchantMay 26, 2018
An utterly captivating examination of faith, despair, the search for happiness, and the need to strike a balance between our spiritual and secular lives. While some elements are a little dragged out, much of the film sizzles with anAn utterly captivating examination of faith, despair, the search for happiness, and the need to strike a balance between our spiritual and secular lives. While some elements are a little dragged out, much of the film sizzles with an underlying intensity that you can feel as the story unfolds. With what is undoubtedly Ethan Hawke's best screen performance, a surprisingly strong portrayal by Cedric "the Entertainer" Kyles in a serious role and phenomenal cinematography, writer-director Paul Schrader has put together a film that gives us all much to contemplate, as well as emotional impressions that will stay with us long after we leave the theater. Handily one of the best releases of 2018 thus far. Expand
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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8
GrantD243Jun 1, 2018
First Reformed wasn't marketed at all around where I live, and I don't believe I ever even watched a trailer for it, so going into it all I knew about it was that it was an A24 film with Ethan Hawke about a reverend. Naturally, I assumed itFirst Reformed wasn't marketed at all around where I live, and I don't believe I ever even watched a trailer for it, so going into it all I knew about it was that it was an A24 film with Ethan Hawke about a reverend. Naturally, I assumed it was a horror film, or at least something dealing with the supernatural. Boy, I was in for a surprise. First Reformed is a slow burn drama, and a damn good one at that. The story of First Reformed is about Reverend Toller, who oversees First Reformed Church, which is a church that is almost 250 years old and is more of a tourist destination than a church at this point (although he does still hold Sunday sessions). There is nothing supernatural, and this isn't an in-your-face religious film, either. This film is about a lot of things. It has A LOT to say about the current state of the environment, and it even touches on politics and the power of corporations. But there's more than that, it's about the personal struggles of Reverend Toller, who has lived a life filled with isolation and sorrow ever since his son was killed in Iraq. We get a lot of insight into the character of Reverend Toller through personal journal entries that he makes and then reads for the audience, and it's made clear that while he may initially appear like a well kept together man, he is nothing of the sort. He is sick with what appears to be cancer, and he is a man filled with despair. When he finds something that makes him question everything (the current state of the environment), he slowly becomes engulfed by it, to a point that frankly I found quite shocking. This film is a very slow burn. It's very serious as well. You won't find much, if any, humor, so it relies purely on the story to keep the audience engaged, and it did just that. I was captivated until the very end, which I must say is something I've been thinking about all day. The acting is excellent, the script is fantastic, and the story kept me intrigued despite being very slow. First Reformed really is one of the best overall films of the year, and I'm sure it'll get some recognition when the award shows swing around. However, you might notice that I only gave it an 8, and really it came down to the fact that this isn't a film that I'm just gonna pop into the Blu-Ray player on a Saturday night when I wanna watch a movie. The re-watchability is just not super high, which inevitably brought down its score. That doesn't mean it's not a great film, though. Expand
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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9
imdoingmypartJun 8, 2018
"Will God forgive us?" This question sits at the center of First Reformed, Paul Schrader's latest film dealing with faith, devotion, grief, morality, hypocrisy, and a general feeling of existential crisis. Ethan Hawke stars as Reverend"Will God forgive us?" This question sits at the center of First Reformed, Paul Schrader's latest film dealing with faith, devotion, grief, morality, hypocrisy, and a general feeling of existential crisis. Ethan Hawke stars as Reverend Toller, a Catholic priest at a dying church in upstate New York. Toller is given the task of counseling a young married couple, more specifically the husband, who is becoming reclusive and radical according to his wife (played by Amanda Seyfriend). Toller does not offer judgment but rather wisdom and comfort, sometimes successfully while other times at a distance. While almost exclusively patient, calm, and well-intended, Toller is isolated and removed from the world around him.

Early in the film, Toller reveals that his son was killed in Iraq after joining the military due to family tradition.Though he does discuss the pain and grief following his son's death, Toller does not physically demonstrate his pain beyond his stoicism. It seems impossible that a man could remain so faithful and reverent after the loss of his child and the dissolution of his marriage. Make no mistake: though he keeps it subdued, Toller's grief is central to First Reformed and its exploration of multiple individuals' characters and beliefs. The film does not take jabs at some of the obvious forces present in the film - military, religion, activism, capitalism - but rather sits back and lets the audience form its own judgments.

First Reformed is most exciting in its ability to navigate its many ideas and emotions in near fluidity. While often a dramatic and tragic character study, the film, at times, is a horror film at heart. At other times, it is a study and comparison of faith and religion. Sometimes its characters are distant while at other times their actions can be completely justified. The same steady, patient camera captures one shot of personal outburst and another shot of a still wine glass just a couple scenes away. Few filmmakers can even attempt to cover the before-mentioned topics of personal faith, religious devotion, overwhelming grief, and morality and its justification all within a two hour time frame, but Schrader, the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, not only exceeds expectations but also manages to fit in creative camera work, quiet moments of speechless physical performance, comedic relief, and pointed questions that do not leave the audience unsatisfied but rather motivated to begin asking introspective questions that are too personal to be answered on screen. In many ways, First Reformed is difficult to discuss due to its piercing, personal nature. In other ways, it merits some of the most interesting discussion in film this year. First Reformed does not seek to ties its events and ideas up into a neat package but rather to quietly explode on screen and draw the audience not only to seek discussion with other viewers but also to open an internal discussion and personal exploration that only the masters of filmmaking can inspire.
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2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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4
tropicAcesJun 9, 2018
I really enjoyed parts of it, and Hawke is subtly great. But the film is so randomly on-the-nose with its call for climate change advocacy (literally stopping the movie twice just to rattle off stats) that it kills momentum. And the endingI really enjoyed parts of it, and Hawke is subtly great. But the film is so randomly on-the-nose with its call for climate change advocacy (literally stopping the movie twice just to rattle off stats) that it kills momentum. And the ending was too abstract for me. Maybe this just wasn’t my kind of film, I don’t know... Expand
3 of 5 users found this helpful32
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8
preciouskikiJun 18, 2018
How about this for an honest, off-the-cuff review. This is the actual email that I just sent to a friend, recommending this movie with some caveats: "Dear (so-and-so), The Ethan Hawke movie I mentioned is at the Avon. It’s called “FirstHow about this for an honest, off-the-cuff review. This is the actual email that I just sent to a friend, recommending this movie with some caveats: "Dear (so-and-so), The Ethan Hawke movie I mentioned is at the Avon. It’s called “First Reformed.” You might like it. Or might not! It’s different… it would definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, though. He is the minister of a church, sent to counsel a woman whose husband is depressed and possibly suicidal. And Ethan has his own issues. (And you have to listen carefully to some monologues to understand his inner workings.) So it’s not exactly uplifting, but Ethan Hawke is good in it, and I am a fan of his, so that’s why I went to see it. The ending was remarkable – literally – as leaving the theatre, a number of different unrelated moviegoers paused to discuss the ending, each having come away with a different impression, yet fully convinced that was the only possible way to see it. (Of course, my reaction was the only feasible one, heh-heh.)" Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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2
KirklandiaJun 17, 2018
Unfortunately this movie just got to my area this weekend. This movie could have been and should have been great! The themes both religious, personal, and ecological are intense and relevant. However as much as I appreciate ambiguity theUnfortunately this movie just got to my area this weekend. This movie could have been and should have been great! The themes both religious, personal, and ecological are intense and relevant. However as much as I appreciate ambiguity the ending was uncalled for. Instead of a climax we got a fart. In my opinion machina ex-deus. Expand
2 of 5 users found this helpful23
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2
ProteusJun 11, 2018
Major Caution!! The movie is filmed in 1:37 aspect ratio. So the film takes up about the middle half of a theater screen. Extremely annoying. There is symmetry in some shots but the visuals are terrible.....a very ugly movie. No score to theMajor Caution!! The movie is filmed in 1:37 aspect ratio. So the film takes up about the middle half of a theater screen. Extremely annoying. There is symmetry in some shots but the visuals are terrible.....a very ugly movie. No score to the movie. Totally character driven movie...so critics who are ALL in the cult of character rate the movie highly.

There is a lot, a LOT, to dislike about this movie...

My pet peeve....movies are a visual art form. Make them attractive to look at. FAIL.
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1 of 5 users found this helpful14
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1
duanewilliamsJun 8, 2018
I hated almost everything about this film. The characters are irrational. It looks like a film made for an old CRT TV. The ending is all wrong. It is very slow and I was very bored most of the time. None of the characters are likable.
2 of 12 users found this helpful210
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4
TVJerryJun 14, 2018
This film seems to be a real critics' darling for its intellectual arguments and Ethan Hawke's intense performance, but I didn't enjoy it (call me a superficial hack). First, it's paced with many pauses, long scenes of somber dialogue andThis film seems to be a real critics' darling for its intellectual arguments and Ethan Hawke's intense performance, but I didn't enjoy it (call me a superficial hack). First, it's paced with many pauses, long scenes of somber dialogue and mostly static camera. Second, the blending of religion and environmental discussion left me flat. Hawke is in almost every scene as the pastor of a small Dutch Reform church. He starts out writing a journal and spends much of the film's narrative reading from it. The inevitable climax was telegraphed pretty early on, but watching its development was only mildly interesting. This is hailed as a return to form for writer/director Paul Schrader and it does take an unusual premise and develop it with intelligence. I just found it tedious and pretentious (and the ending full of flaws in logic). Expand
1 of 6 users found this helpful15
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5
The4thBillboardJun 23, 2018
I am giving the a score of 5 and based on the comments I heard from other people leaving the theater most of them would have rated it lower. The only thing I can think is that people who liked its message about the environment felt obligatedI am giving the a score of 5 and based on the comments I heard from other people leaving the theater most of them would have rated it lower. The only thing I can think is that people who liked its message about the environment felt obligated to give it high scores. It did have its good points but not enough. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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0
PurpleCrayon4UDec 21, 2018
A political message film using religion as a backdrop
to deliver. Ethan Hawke is not that great of an actor,
no matter what he says to the contrary. This film will be a waste of your time-so wait to rent it or find one of the thousands of
A political message film using religion as a backdrop
to deliver. Ethan Hawke is not that great of an actor,
no matter what he says to the contrary. This film will
be a waste of your time-so wait to rent it or find one
of the thousands of sites to watch it for free.
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0 of 8 users found this helpful08
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7
imthenoobAug 8, 2018
After the first viewing, I didn't like it but it kind of stuck with me and made me think. Soon after a second viewing, I really appreciated it more and consider it a pretty good indie film. Hawke does an amazing job as the lead here andAfter the first viewing, I didn't like it but it kind of stuck with me and made me think. Soon after a second viewing, I really appreciated it more and consider it a pretty good indie film. Hawke does an amazing job as the lead here and really didn't get the love he should have come award time but it is what it is. This movie isn't for everyone but I still recommend it highly. Expand
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5
92rossSep 9, 2018
Ethan Hawke is really good but it just never really got going for me. I expected something more. Something. Anything.
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9
justwibiOct 9, 2018
even a priest is human too. and as a human being, we didn't have to focus on one thing only.
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8
buddhalouJan 16, 2019
A tragic and beautifully written exploration of spirituality, morality, faith, and the loss of these amidst despair, tragedy, and doubt. A mourning for a world gone mad. Beautiful cinematography and outstanding performances all around.
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7
mmadnessgamesFeb 1, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I don't like being manipulated by films with political agendas and I don't like films that portray the church poorly.

First Reformed doesn't really do either of these things. As the main character in the film says: climate change isn't political... As for the religious side of things, the church is portrayed as a mixed bag (which it is).

My main problem with the film is the ending. When the protagonist starts flirting with the idea of blowing up the church with a suicide vest, I lost interest.

Schrader's writing is a little sophomoric. He's not great at writing dialogue, so his films often have massive amounts of monologues. And, there's often over the top violence.

Bringing out the Dead is a fun film, but it's crazy over the top. Taxi Driver is about a twelve year old prostitute.

Most of his films play these "powerful" cinematic cards.

First Reformed would have been better without the barbed wire and the explosives.

It didn't make sense - to me - why the protagonist would want to kill a church full of people. They didn't establish it properly and they didn't explain it.

Also, I could have done without the super weird double plank levitation scene.

Other than all that, it's an interesting film.
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wrightpictJun 30, 2019
anti christian propaganda to push abortion and global warming. while the polar bear thrives and cold countries pray for a warmer winter. socialism rises again like in 1917 to take away religion without a fake dooms day UN 12 year predictionanti christian propaganda to push abortion and global warming. while the polar bear thrives and cold countries pray for a warmer winter. socialism rises again like in 1917 to take away religion without a fake dooms day UN 12 year prediction and hedonism and narcissism reigns for a priest who should be about love and caring for children not killing them. total crap. bad actors too. Expand
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9
LegitSaltMay 3, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is the only movie that I saw multiple times in theatre this summer, and I wish I could have gone again. This is Ethan Hawke's best performance, and it is absurd that he wasn't nominated for it. Aside from this, the commentary that this movie provides is some of the most incisive of the year, burning every bridge it comes to. This movie's cinematography was absolutely phenomenal, something that was especially shown during the Magical Mystery Tour montage. This is assisted by the stellar lighting, all of which made the film feel real and breathing. The lighting always illuminated the subject and feeling natural, whether that be by the use of candlelight or the glow of a laptop screen. The lighting serves a second purpose to leave parts of the background black, as this symbolizes the void that is suppressing Reverend Toller, the void brought on by his sudden religious and corporate scepticism. This movie is up for interpretation, especially the ending. During the last scene, when Mary comes in, it could have actually Reverend Toller's hallucination. This could be for multiple reasons. For one, the door to the house had been locked, as shown when Joel tries to get in, yet Mary is standing in the doorway with the front door wide open. Secondly, Mary seems to not notice/be affected by the rusted barbed wire that covers Toller. She goes on hugging and making out with him, neither commenting on not showing signs of acknowledgement about the wire. If this were a hallucination, the final cut to black would make more sense, as this is when Toller's life ends. I believe the reason that Mary appears, is due to the fact that this is what holy land looks like to Toller. Holy land being what Toller says you stand on before you die. There are some other things, like as to why he doesn't drink the drain cleaner, but overall this seems to make a lot of sense to me and wraps up the movie nicely. This was my second favourite movie of 2018 and is worth the watch, although it is a bit of a slow burn, the payoff and lingering thoughts are well worth it. Expand
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10
NinteundoSep 10, 2018
Oscar worthy performance by Ethan Hawke, a good message, a good story, great cinematography and so on. my favorite movie of the year so far.
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8
cameronhalmansOct 3, 2018
First Reformed sheds an already bright light on topics that run the political discussion in this country. This film is so good. This movie doesn't allow to escape reality, it sucks you further and further into the truths of despair with everyFirst Reformed sheds an already bright light on topics that run the political discussion in this country. This film is so good. This movie doesn't allow to escape reality, it sucks you further and further into the truths of despair with every second of run time. Ethan Hawk is incredible. A truly thought provoking experience.

80/100
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7
Bertaut1Aug 12, 2018
Brilliantly shot, excellently written

Most reviews I've seen of First Reformed have praised it as Paul Schrader's best work since either Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. And whilst I think that's an oversimplification, unjustly ignoring such
Brilliantly shot, excellently written

Most reviews I've seen of First Reformed have praised it as Paul Schrader's best work since either Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. And whilst I think that's an oversimplification, unjustly ignoring such strong screenplays as The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Bringing out the Dead (1999), and such superb directorial work as Affliction (1997) and Auto Focus (2002), there can be little doubt that First Reformed is easily his best film of the last fifteen years or so.

The film tells a simple story - Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is the parish priest of a small congregation in Snowbridge. A former military chaplain, Toller is struggling with the death of his son, who he encouraged to enlist, and who was killed several months into his first tour in Iraq. As a result, Toller's marriage fell apart, with his wife blaming him for Joseph's death. As the film begins, Toller's spiritual crisis is already well under way. He's drinking too much, doesn't show much interest in his official duties, and has taken to recording his thoughts in a journal which he plans to keep for one year, and then destroy. After Sunday mass, Toller is approached by Mary (Amanda Seyfried), one of his parishioners, who is worried about her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger). A radical environmentalist who has just been released from prison in Canada, Michael has developed extreme nihilistic views, and wants Mary to abort their unborn child because he doesn't think anyone has the right to bring a child into a dying world. Although initially reluctant to get involved, Mary is able to persuade Toller to counsel Michael, bringing his own spiritual dilemma to the fore.

The most striking thing to me about First Reformed is that it is brilliantly shot in Academy ratio (1.37:1), and as a result, everything is boxed in, suggesting little room for movement, with very little empty space in the frame. Coupled with this, Schrader is remarkably consistent in composing perfectly symmetrical shots (the opening scene is a good example). Together, the small frame and the symmetrical compositions give one the impression of looking at a confessional, with the priest on one side and the confessor on the other. As Toller's journal entries occur throughout the film in the form of voiceover, this aesthetic replication of a confessional is enhanced even further. Schrader allows the content to brilliantly dictate the form, with the two becoming so intertwined as to be virtually indistinguishable from one another.

Of course, Schrader is as cine-literate as they come, and doesn't make films in isolation. The film in his oeuvre of which I was most reminded was, strangely enough, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005), which is not especially good, but which does share many of the same narrative beats and thematic concerns - a lost priest whose experiences of the darker side of humanity has led to him questioning his faith; a crisis of conscience; a righteous cause to which he totally gives himself over; an indifferent God watching everything unfold; an unimaginable sacrifice; hope offered in the form of an innocent.

However, this is not to say First Reformed is perfect. There are parts where it is extraordinarily clunky. For example, there's a wake where a group of environmentalists start singing an awful cappella version of Neil Young's activist song, "Who's Gonna Stand up?", or the scene where Mary and Toller take (figurative) flight through the power of holding hands (in a scene that reminded me of The Big Lebowski far more than I would imagine was intended. Additionally, the environmentalist side of the story never really coalesced into anything inherently coherent. Rather than the film presenting it as the backdrop against which Toller's crisis takes place, Schrader seems to be trying to genuinely shoehorn in a call-to-action. Which is fairly out of place. And, to be honest, the photograph of the emaciated polar bear is far more disturbing and resonant than any of the facts and figures the film occasionally tosses out.

But these are minor faults, and all things considered, this is a high-quality film. Will it be in contention come awards season? Possibly. Schrader has always had a fraught relationship with the Academy (hard to believe he's never even been nominated for an Oscar), but this is the kind of serious subject matter that voters usually lap up. I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Hawke get some acting nods, possibly Seyfried too. Irrespective of that, this is a strong film made by a skilled artist about a subject matter for which he clearly feels deeply.
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4
KenRApr 25, 2019
This was another movie I knew nothing about before watching, had I known it was a Paul Schrader story I may have even given it a miss. Schrader’s direction is slow but stylish or maybe he left a lot of the creative, visual decisions, to hisThis was another movie I knew nothing about before watching, had I known it was a Paul Schrader story I may have even given it a miss. Schrader’s direction is slow but stylish or maybe he left a lot of the creative, visual decisions, to his director of photography: Alexander Dynan (Dog Eat Dog). But, good looking images and performances do not atone for a clumsily developed script. The first half seemed as if it could be moving into interesting territory - before it trailed off into the now predictable ground that’s getting high ‘praise’ of late. Those who regard themselves as better than the majority of movie viewers might think this is rather arty, and see themselves among the few smart enough to ‘interpret’ what is really going on. To these I say, it’s very easy to read into any story what you want to see.

Overall, this comes across as little more than ‘topical’ propaganda with a heavy-handed climate change cliché being substituted for any real character study or true depth. Take the character representing the energy companies executive - as expected; he’s portrayed as the typical insensitive, aggressive bully - buying votes and support from everyone including the church officials that our local pastor (Ethan Hawk) works for. Hawk is very good in his role but his character's actions become quickly unhinged and downright foolish - right up to the somewhat laughable ending (some viewers asked, “What happened, did the film break”? This somewhat uninspired work uses scripture based interpretations to manipulate the un-informed, and hook the lazy viewer towards its skewed viewpoints. Could it be that Mr Schrader may need to consider an overdue retirement? – his current writings seem all about recycling character elements of his earlier stories – this one is simply ‘Taxi Driver’ in a church setting, and somewhat poorly transposed at that.

The Academy and the likes of the Scorsese’s of this ‘darkness obsessed’ movie world - may see greatness in these often shambolic works but from the looks of the ticket-buying public, they, are not buying these ideas – so, according to box office returns many of these movies are actually more likely to end up lingering on the shelves. After jotting out these remarks, I curiously checked for other viewer reviews and found some of interest on IMDb, I could agree with many including the following: Sandman, PotassiumMan, and Davegipson, etc, on the first and second pages of viewer reviews ... those, and many more are all worth a read to learn more.

One of the better bits, the marvellous singing voice of Julie Murney performing the old Hoffman/Showalter: ‘Leaning On The Everlasting Arms’ – though, it’s almost wasted here. On the technical side, why would any modern moviemaker want to go backwards? We progressed to the marvellous Wide Screen visual ratio of 16: 9 over a decade ago but Schrader chose to make this movie in 4: 3 (the old standard screen) For this films content, that decision comes across as being as foolish as elements of the story, disappointing indeed (I note some others have said they half expected to see Al Gore’s name on the producer's credits, I understand what they mean!)
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9
grantpolifkaSep 1, 2018
Guided by an outstanding performance by Ethan Hawke, First Reformed acts as a spiritual sequel to Taxi Driver with its thought-provoking questions and artistic style.
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8
CosiMOLOGOSep 10, 2018
El guionista de Taxi Driver y Toro Salvaje, fiel al estilo de sus anteriores trabajos, Paul Schrader, que ahora se encarga del guión y la dirección, junto con A24 (una gran productora de cine independiente). En Taxi Driver teníamos a Travis,El guionista de Taxi Driver y Toro Salvaje, fiel al estilo de sus anteriores trabajos, Paul Schrader, que ahora se encarga del guión y la dirección, junto con A24 (una gran productora de cine independiente). En Taxi Driver teníamos a Travis, un excombatiente de la guerra en Vietnam que al ver lo oscura y perversa que era su ciudad decide "limpiarla" por su cuenta. Ahora se nos presenta a Toller, que perdió a su hijo en la guerra y ahora es el sacerdote de una pequeña iglesia en una parte de Nueva York.

Las preocupaciones y todo el dolor que Toller carga se demuestra en el montaje y fotografía, que se inclina a colores blancos y grises, que bien podrían representar la desesperación por los problemas que lo aquejan que abruman a Toller.

Pero también hay espacio para colores más oscuros. La película aprovecha de una manera magnifica todos los elementos cinematográficos y así sabe como crear ambientes valiéndose solo del la iluminación y fotografía, en su mayor parte sin música. Escenas con elementos surrealistas se usan como metáforas que refuerzan el tono de la historia .Pero aparte de la fotografía la interpretación de Ethan Hawke como Toller es conmovedora y convincente.

Paul Schrader a filmado una película conmovedora y honesta
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10
edilchristianJan 14, 2019
Ethan Hawke shines in the best performance of the year, masterly directed and executed as a slow burn drama. Must watch for all cinephiles! It is dark, haunting and depressing just like Rev. Ernst Toller's mind. Gives a gloomy portrait ofEthan Hawke shines in the best performance of the year, masterly directed and executed as a slow burn drama. Must watch for all cinephiles! It is dark, haunting and depressing just like Rev. Ernst Toller's mind. Gives a gloomy portrait of spirituality in these dark times Expand
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8
RainDog_45Feb 2, 2019
Deliberate pacing suits the foreboding material. Great performances by Hawke and Seyfried. My biggest gripe is with the ending— not sure where I would’ve liked it to have gone, but where it went felt incohesive.
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8
Kwp1039Mar 25, 2019
‘First Reformed’ is a 2018 Drama/Mystery film by director Paul Schrader. With exceptional use of the ‘long shot’, which is executed to evoke a vast array of emotions from the viewer; ‘First Reformed’ offers a deep look at spirituality, moral‘First Reformed’ is a 2018 Drama/Mystery film by director Paul Schrader. With exceptional use of the ‘long shot’, which is executed to evoke a vast array of emotions from the viewer; ‘First Reformed’ offers a deep look at spirituality, moral convictions, and disillusionment. Ethan Hawke’s performance, and the development of his character, not only keeps the audience engaged, but keeps them questioning at every turn. ‘First Reformed’ ends with a beautifully shot, yet ambiguous ending, that leaves the audience constructing their own ending in a truly original way. Expand
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