Allison M.’s review published on Letterboxd:
First viewing: May 10, 2018
First rating: 7/10
First review (click)
Second viewing: June 2, 2018
Second rating: 10/10
I checked into Upgrade at L.A. Live Regal, but for like 20 minutes, I got errors at the kiosk and tried to figure things out with Jennifer Lopez at Customer Service who couldn't help me but gave me a customer service # to call (they were closed) and it was extremely frustrating. So I did the only thing I could do. I drove to the other side of town to watch First Reformed again. Was it the hand of God? Maybe.
The first time, I was distracted by not knowing what was going to happen. The narration felt incoherent, but this time I knew where it was leading. I have to admit. I felt fragile like the Michael character, just like I did the last time I saw that movie. I am not Michael, though. I feel like "Ernst", the Ethan Hawke character. The first time I saw this, I was so upset that Ethan Hawke was not Robert De Niro, that I overly judged the performance. It's not a perfect performance, but....oh wait, yes it is. Nevermind. Scratch any doubt or insecurities. Hawke's character mixes Pepto Bismol into his alcohol. I've never done that EXACTLY, but I probably have metaphorically.
We are victims, trapped in this movie. It's not a movie. It really exists. Global warming is real. So are the fucked up people we encounter from day to day. It may not be fair. It may not be fun. But this is the reality.
As Hawke and Seyfried's characters levitate off the ground, perhaps it is an escapist moment. I remember Schrader referring to this the last time I saw this movie when he was there for a Q&A, saying he was thinking, "What would Tarkovsky do?"
In an alternate reality, this movie would crash & burn. Just kind of like our reality, I guess. How are we still alive? How many accidents have we overcome? How many near misses? Yet, we're still here, by grace and love, somehow. WHY!?!?!?!?
"Ernst" wrestles with life like Jacob wrestled with the angel (in the Bible). This is mentioned in the movie. He's referred to as "Toller" during the whole movie, then Amanda Seyfried's character, Mary, reveals his name is "Ernst" toward the end, almost like we find out Maria Schneider's character's name in Last Tango in Paris at the very end, when it's too late. But it's not too late in First Reformed. Maybe the most awkward hug in cinematic history then occurs. But we are living in perhaps the most awkward time in history, so that's okay.
-Toller orders miso & fish, describing it as one of the simple pleasures in life.
-Ethan Hawke's character is serving food to people in a soup kitchen type of place with options like beef and chicken (mentioned in first review).
This is the 230th film I've seen using Movie Pass.