CCFF 2018: First Reformed

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed. Photo courtesy of A24.

First Reformed is a mesmerizing drama about a pastor who counsels a husband and wife.

Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a pastor at the First Reformed Church.  The Dutch Reform church used to be a station on along the Underground Railround but as it approaches 250 years, it doesn’t contain the magic that used to be there.  The congregation is small even as tourists continue to stop by.  This isn’t helped by Abundant Life led by Reverend Joel Jeffers, the head pastor of those TV-style churches with a huge facility and congregation.

Enter the pregnant Mary (Amanda Seyfried) as she seeks Toller’s advice for her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger).  Michael was recently released from jail in Canada.  Falling into the category of radical environmentalism, Michael and Mary have conflicting views in some aspects.  As Toller counsels the two of them, he finds himself in a whole new world while dealing with his own health issues.

Schrader’s script is one that takes into account the frequent mixing of faith and politics.  How much should one’s political views and money dictate what is said at the pulpit?  In any event, the ending of First Reformed stays with you after the credits finish rolling.  It’s a lot to take in.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Paul Schrader
CAST:  Amanda Seyfried, Ethan Hawke, and Cedric Kyles

An official selection of the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival, First Reformed held its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.  A24 will release the film in select theaters on May 18, 2018 followed by a theatrical expansion.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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