First Reformed

First Reformed

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.

From writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver; American Gigolo; Affliction) comes a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political, and planetary.

Running Time
113 minutes
Release to DVD: T.B.A.

The Critics Comment

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Vox/Allissa Wilkinson
It’s a remarkable addition to the small but growing canon of American films that aren’t afraid to stare straight into an abyss with all of the implications — moral, ethical, political, and religious — that are required for this moment in our history. First Reformed is a confounding stunner of a movie and richly deserves our full, serious attention.

Washington Post/Ann Hornaday
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.”

San Francisco Chronicle/Mick LaSalle
First Reformed has a confidence about it, the presence of filmmaking consciousness that can’t do wrong, because this time he knows exactly what he wants to say, not only in a general sense, but second by second and shot by shot.

Seattle Times/J.R. Kinnard
Schrader dissects the roots, hypocrisies and virtues of Christianity through a series of increasingly troubling symbols.... Not an easy watch, but required viewing for ambitious cinephiles.

Movie Nation/Roger Moore
It’s a powerful, disturbing crisis of faith drama that takes on the raiments of a thriller, and a tour de force for the understated acting of Ethan Hawke.

Wall Street journal/Joe Morgenstern
Grapples with eternal questions of faith, to be sure, but confronts just as powerfully, if not more so, the urgent matter of how to live a good, useful life in the turbulent here and the terrifying now. First Reformed has its steeple in the clouds and its foundation on solid ground.


Crested Butte Film Festival Winner: Best Narrative Award

FEST International Film Festival Winner: Jury Prize

Gotham Awards Winner: Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Ethan Hawke)

Munich Film Festival Winner: Best International Film

National Board of Review Winner: Best Original Screenplay

Venice Film Festival Winner: Green Drop Award (Paul Schrader)

Nominated for 130 international and film critics' association awards winning 50 of them.

Related Links

Internet Movie Database
Rotten Tomatoes
Interview with the director