You may not be aware but Paul Schrader, writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders the last few years. That all changes with the stellar First Reformed.
Reverend Toller, played with chilling, muted, disintegrating fury by Ethan Hawke - whose great gift as an actor is that you can almost never see him acting - is the minister of a small church maintained more for its historical significance than its thriving ministry.
Mary (Amanda Seyfried) approaches the good Reverend hoping that he might be able to talk to her distant, spiralling environmental activist husband Michael (Philip Ettinger) and bring him some peace. But, predictably his meeting with Michael and Mary only leads Toller further into the darkness that has plagued him since the death of his son.
We don’t want to think of ourselves as powerless, but First Reformed confronts that possibility, and in cutting to the bone, toys with the possibility that even if God is listening, he might be past forgiving us. This Schrader film sits next to Taxi Driver/Raging Bull as a modern American classic. (research Jack Whiting) And… you wont have to wait too long to find Travis Bickle lurking here and there.