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First Reformed


  1. Directed by: Paul Schrader
  2. Produced by:
  3. Written by: Paul Schrader
  4. Music by:
  5. Cinematography by: Alexander Dynan
  6. Editing by:
  7. Release Date: 2018
  8. Running Time: 113
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is a film that feels a long time coming for many fans of the writer-director. With the story of Pastor Toller, played by Ethan Hawke in a career highlight performance, the writer-director has finally tackled the ‘transcendental style’ proposed in his 1972 work of film theory. While it took nearly 50 years, it’s a film that speaks to this present moment in history: a portrait of spiritual struggle and inner turmoil in contemporary America, asking what role Christianity might have to play in our moment, or any moment when the future seems uncertain. While its references to the works of Bergman, Bresson, and others are obvious, the film never feels like a cold stylistic exercise. The film is pure Schrader, his philosophical and formal preoccupations coming through loud-and-clear.

Following the death of his son in the Iraq War, Toller is serving as a caretaker minister at the 250-year-old First Reformed Church. He keeps a diary of his growing spiritual unrest, which is exacerbated by mounting health issues and a drinking problem. When a young parishioner, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), concerned about her activist husband’s (Philip Etttinger) despair over imminent environmental catastrophe, asks Toller to intercede, he finds himself drawn into the husband’s mounting despair.

The transcendental style, as described by Schrader in his book, often involved the introduction of disparity and/or a crisis, which brings about the presence of the holy into the mundane of the world of the film. First Reformed suggests that to live in the year 2017 and hold serious beliefs about faith is to live in a sustained tension, between hope and despair: Toller advises that ‘Holding these two ideas in our head is life itself’. But the structuring realities of our world can seem overwhelming, and First Reformed suggests that the cost of maintaining the tension may be too much for any one person to bear.
– Anders Bergstrom


  1. Directed by: Paul Schrader
  2. Produced by:
  3. Written by: Paul Schrader
  4. Music by:
  5. Cinematography by: Alexander Dynan
  6. Editing by:
  7. Release Date: 2018
  8. Running Time: 113
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is a film that feels a long time coming for many fans of the writer-director. With the story of Pastor Toller, played by Ethan Hawke in a career highlight performance, the writer-director has finally tackled the ‘transcendental style’ proposed in his 1972 work of film theory. While it took nearly 50 years, it’s a film that speaks to this present moment in history: a portrait of spiritual struggle and inner turmoil in contemporary America, asking what role Christianity might have to play in our moment, or any moment when the future seems uncertain. While its references to the works of Bergman, Bresson, and others are obvious, the film never feels like a cold stylistic exercise. The film is pure Schrader, his philosophical and formal preoccupations coming through loud-and-clear.

Following the death of his son in the Iraq War, Toller is serving as a caretaker minister at the 250-year-old First Reformed Church. He keeps a diary of his growing spiritual unrest, which is exacerbated by mounting health issues and a drinking problem. When a young parishioner, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), concerned about her activist husband’s (Philip Etttinger) despair over imminent environmental catastrophe, asks Toller to intercede, he finds himself drawn into the husband’s mounting despair.

The transcendental style, as described by Schrader in his book, often involved the introduction of disparity and/or a crisis, which brings about the presence of the holy into the mundane of the world of the film. First Reformed suggests that to live in the year 2017 and hold serious beliefs about faith is to live in a sustained tension, between hope and despair: Toller advises that ‘Holding these two ideas in our head is life itself’. But the structuring realities of our world can seem overwhelming, and First Reformed suggests that the cost of maintaining the tension may be too much for any one person to bear.
– Anders Bergstrom

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is a film that feels a long time coming for many fans of the writer-director. With the story of Pastor Toller, played by Ethan Hawke in a career highlight performance, the writer-director has finally tackled the ‘transcendental style’ proposed in his 1972 work of film theory. While it took nearly 50 years, it’s a film that speaks to this present moment in history: a portrait of spiritual struggle and inner turmoil in contemporary America, asking what role Christianity might have to play in our moment, or any moment when the future seems uncertain. While its references to the works of Bergman, Bresson, and others are obvious, the film never feels like a cold stylistic exercise. The film is pure Schrader, his philosophical and formal preoccupations coming through loud-and-clear.

Following the death of his son in the Iraq War, Toller is serving as a caretaker minister at the 250-year-old First Reformed Church. He keeps a diary of his growing spiritual unrest, which is exacerbated by mounting health issues and a drinking problem. When a young parishioner, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), concerned about her activist husband’s (Philip Etttinger) despair over imminent environmental catastrophe, asks Toller to intercede, he finds himself drawn into the husband’s mounting despair.

The transcendental style, as described by Schrader in his book, often involved the introduction of disparity and/or a crisis, which brings about the presence of the holy into the mundane of the world of the film. First Reformed suggests that to live in the year 2017 and hold serious beliefs about faith is to live in a sustained tension, between hope and despair: Toller advises that ‘Holding these two ideas in our head is life itself’. But the structuring realities of our world can seem overwhelming, and First Reformed suggests that the cost of maintaining the tension may be too much for any one person to bear.
– Anders Bergstrom


  1. Directed by: Paul Schrader
  2. Produced by:
  3. Written by: Paul Schrader
  4. Music by:
  5. Cinematography by: Alexander Dynan
  6. Editing by:
  7. Release Date: 2018
  8. Running Time: 113
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix
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