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First Reformed

"This is a movie about faith tested, and people trying to reconcile hope with a world that can feel hopeless. It's a film to be seen in a dark theater with an audience hushed in reverence of the power of cinema." - Dallas Morning News

First Reformed, a mesmerizingly austere drama of one man’s apocalyptic crisis of faith, feels like the movie Paul Schrader was put on this planet to make. At once ruminative and shocking, godwardly inclined and repellently graphic, First Reformed is indisputably the finest film Schrader has directed since his sensitive adaptation of Russell Banks’s novel Affliction.

“This muted, meditative character study stars Ethan Hawke as Ernst Toller, the pastor of a tiny church in Upstate New York. In its quiet, carefully observed opening moments, First Reformed sets the tone for what is to come: This will be a film about discernment, a listening for God’s call that can either result in ecstatic awakening or abysmal despair. With his cragged forehead, rakelike frame and ascetic brush-cut, Hawke aptly embodies the latter, as Toller is revealed to be a man grappling with doubt, hopelessness and a crushing sense of guilt. When a young expectant mother named Mary (Amanda Seyfried) asks Toller to counsel her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger), the subsequent encounters will put Toller on a path of even more punishing self-examination.” - Washington Post

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