“First Reformed” is a masterpiece of biblical proportions


Amy Pearson / Montclair Film

2018 Montclair Film Festival – Blaze


Ethan Hawke gives a career-best performance as Toller, a man who is subtly falling apart in front of our very eyes. Likewise, Seyfried, Ettinger and Cedric the Entertainer are all in top form here. They’re not so much acting as channeling real people.

A lot of this is the result of some masterful writing and direction. Schrader presents everything with an air of stillness, allowing scenes to play out in an objective manner that almost feels like spying on the characters. This stillness, which can be credited to director of photography Alexander Dynan, creates a constant air of unease.

The dialogue, on the other hand, is downright operatic. The aforementioned conversation between Toller and Michael, despite being two men sitting in a room talking about climate change, is so confident, so purposeful in its execution that it transports the audience directly into the room with them.

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