CAST: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Michael Gaston, Van Hansis, Cedric the Entertainer DIRECTOR: Paul Schrader CAPTIONED ON WEDNESDAYS | ENDS 6/28
Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence.
Quieter and more sensitive than anything else Schrader has directed, with Ethan Hawke giving one of his finest and most moving performances in the lead role.Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club
What keeps us alert as viewers is not the slow disintegration of this man's faith, but the deep ambiguity about where the film's sympathies actually lie.Elena Lazic, Little White Lies
Greatness is often intertwined with insanity, and there's no way to describe the finale of First Reformed as anything other than a dual act of extreme devotion and inspired lunacy.Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine