Paul Schrader’s new drama “First Reformed” is a drama about a grieving reverend who is counseling a couple–the husband of which is a radical environmentalist. This is a talky, dialogue- driven, and unsettling thriller that makes you both empathize with its characters as well as send a chill down your spine at times.
The film’s deeply intellectual and serious commentary on matters of religion and environmentalism is profound and thoughtful. This movie will likely not be suited for mainstream audiences desiring cheap entertainment, but serious viewers looking to be challenged in their thought processes will have much material to ponder during–and after–they view the movie. The acting is very strong, as Schrader commands his cast into giving low-key but quietly powerful and resonant performances. The standouts in the cast are Ethan Hawke’s lead role as well as Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer in the supporting cast. A gripping, dark (almost relentlessly so at times) tone keeps the viewer engrossed in the film. While this isn’t a horror film (despite containing disturbing content and moments,) the film’s simple score is incredibly chilling and gets under one’s skin more than almost any other film’s score I have witnessed in a long time.