First Reformed ★★★★½

Oh my God.

This film is magnificent on nearly every possible level. Paul Schrader has crafted something truly unique and special. Above all else, this film is a harrowing visualization of the turmoil we should all be feeling as our planet rots because of our species' greed. The themes presented here sent me on a wild loop for the rest of the night, and I can't even stop thinking about it a day later. It'll stick with me for a while.

Ethan Hawke deserves an Oscar for his performance as Reverend Toller, a lost and fractured soul looking for some purpose or direction. He begins to find it in the coming doom of climate change, and we witness his ailing unraveling through small, piercing moments and slow, lingering, quiet shots, composed with the utmost care and attention.

This film should be viewed by every single person, even though Schrader's intention was never to make a mass-appeal film. This is a tough piece of visual poetry to process, but it should be necessary for all humans to face the reality of what is happening to our Earth, our home. It is dying, and it may be too late for anything to be done about it.

This film is what cinema is all about, and seeing it reaffirmed my love for movies, even though it shocked and challenged me at every turn. It is painfully and gorgeously composed, with its shine illuminated in its deliberate character development and crazy, yet brief moments of wonder and awe. Schrader has impossibly and masterfully found a way to visualize and present us with his urgent message of hope and despair as a reflection of these difficult times we live in (something Darren Aronofsky similarly attempted with last year's mother!).

The only fault I have with this film is its very final scene. It lost me a tiny bit trying to convey it from a truly omniscient point of view, but I think I understand what Schrader was trying do. Even though I may not yet understand why. It essentially solidified this as a very specific and artsy film, which is a bit of a bummer because its subject matter should be exposed to every single possible audience.

I highly recommend this film, just be prepared for some heavy and intense reactions.

"Will God forgive us?"

Ernest liked this review