First Reformed 15
The pastor of a small New England church finds his faith tested after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife in this taut, chilling thriller from director Paul Schrader.
Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary parish priest at a small church in upstate New York catering to a dwindling congregation, being slowly eclipsed by its nearby parent church with its state-of-the-art facilities. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, Toller is plunged into his own tormented past and finds himself questioning his own future and where redemption might lie. With the pressure on him beginning to grow, he must do everything he can to stop events spiralling out of control.
An astounding, harrowing meditation on faith and doubt, First Reformed confirms Schrader (director of American Gigolo and screenwriter for Taxi Driver) as one of the finest American writers and filmmakers of his generation. And like Taxi Driver, his latest finds the director unafraid to stare straight into the abyss with all of the implications - moral, ethical, political, and religious - that are required for this moment in American history.