First Reformed

First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017) released 18May18; DVD release 21Aug18

A priest of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.

Amanda Seyfried, Ethan Hawke, Cedric Kyles

Paul Schrader has always been an amazingly protean filmmaker — going all the way back to the late 70s, when the fabled screenwriter of Taxi Driver first stepped behind the camera, leaping from Blue Collar to American Gigolo, from Cat People to Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, from Affliction to Auto Focus, from Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist, to The Canyons. Throughout his career, though, there are myths, memes, and motifs that remain quintessentially Schraderian: the whole story of his repressed Calvinist upbringing and how it resulted in his never seeing a film until he was in his late teens; his fixation on the transcendental high rhapsodic austerity of Bresson, Dreyer and Ozu; and, through all the pointy-headed fixation, the way that he retained a down-and-dirty B-movie grandiosity.
Schrader's First Reformed spans those high/low, art/pulp obsessions with a reach as arresting as it is (knowingly) nutty. ... Paul Schrader courts respectability and leaves it in the dust, getting stoned on excess. But make no mistake: He’s still one hell of a filmmaker. Owen Gleiberman, Variety.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 24 July, 2108 | Now: 24 July, 2018