First Reformed (2018)
Critic Consensus: Brought to life by delicate work from writer-director Paul Schrader and elevated by a standout performance by Ethan Hawke, First Reformed takes a sensitive and suspenseful look at weighty themes.
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Critic Reviews for First Reformed
First Reformed is a bleak, punishing movie and the furthest thing imaginable from an easy crowdpleaser. But Hawke juices it with an austere sense of grace.
The film is a cry of rage against the polluters and corrupters who, Schrader contends, are destroying the planet, as well as against the commercialisation of the churches and the growth of terrorism.
They are weird moments of almost hypnotic transcendence, but at the center of it is that tortured God's lonely man character perfectly embodied by Ethan Hawke.
A work that most 30 year old's would welcome, and one that a 71 year old might have thought would never come around again.
Audience Reviews for First Reformed
Slow and calm drama in 4:3 aspect ratio (which fits the mood perfectly) and almost entirely static camera work, relying mostly on its writing and the great acting. The tension builds up slowly, without reading about the premise you wonder for a while where the film might actually take you. In the end it has you by the collar and doesn't stop shaking. There are several themes and ideas coming together here, but for me what stands out is the big bitch slap for Christian conservatives in the US backing the wrong orange faced horses these days.
I don't believe I've ever seen a film shot so deliberately. Almost every single angle is framed with precision and intent. Like a Wes Anderson film sapped of any and all whimsy. Many shots linger in a style not often found outside of horror films, in the scenes they intend to deliver the audience a scare that its characters do not see.
With a formal rigor that reflects the protagonist's internal struggle and the austere life he chose to lead, Schrader's film reminded me of Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light, in which a Christian priest also had his faith shaken by despair - a despair so intense we can feel it across the screen.
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