Ethan Hawke has put in superior work in recent years, and I know I severely underestimated him! From Maudie’s triumph to his latest, an extraordinary turn as a priest in First Reformed, Hawke has become a great actor. Paul Schrader wrote and directs a stunning look at a man who must don a false front in order to deal with the many responsibilities of his job in a rural New York church and hide his true nature. Toller begins an experimental diary and notes everything he feels without editing, as a form of prayer, because he can’t pray. Parishioner Amanda Seyfried asks for help for her husband, a radical activist who can’t face an imperfect future. He wants her to abort their child because of the “unliveabilty” of the planet. Toller looks at his climate change research and is horrified and haunted. He’s also struggling with his poor reputation and alcoholism and is being closed out of a church’ 250 year rededication ceremony. He’s reached a tipping point. The film’s tone is deeply sombre, and it takes its time and that’s particularly welcome in the jolts-per-second era of filmmaking. You will be swept up and captivated emotionally and intellectually by Toller’s philosophical journey as he tries to live out his own advice – “life is holding hope and despair in our heads all the time.” Cedric the Entertainer is credibly terrifying and comforting as the pastor who takes him under his wing.
[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCF5Y8dQpR4″ width=”500″ height=”300″]
[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqPZsDHcwsg” width=”500″ height=”300″]