First Reformed

First Reformed

DVD - 2018
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A pastor of a small church in upstate New York starts to spiral out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Ethan Hawke delivers one of his best performances as Ernst Toller, a reverend whose moral values are tested when he begins to counsel an extreme environmental activist. The cinematography lends the film a bleak and effective simplicity.

Nominated for Original Screenplay


From the critics


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m
marcos_santiago
Oct 15, 2019

SOME SPOILERS
SOME SPOILERS
SOME SPOILERS

I don't like posting spoilers, but maybe the following comments may "spoil" the fun for you.

It is a brilliant movie, even if I didn't like all of it. Some very dark themes.

At the beginning of the film, "First Reformed" presents several ethical dilemmas to the viewer.

The viewer should think and decide... what would you say? What would you do?

FIRST DILEMMA
Michael is an environmentalist extremist that sincerely believes the world will not survive more than a few more decades, due to the abuse of the human population.
Michael asks the minister, do we have any moral authority to bring children into the world - if we know it is about to end?

SECOND DILEMMA
The minister counters with a question about abortion. Is a potential environmental disaster good enough reason for abortion?

THIRD DILEMMA
If we are committing mass suicide by destroying our planet, is it OK for Michael to kill himself? Even if his unborn baby's welfare may be negatively impacted by not having a father?

The next dilemma is just suggested, when an IED (improvised explosive device) is found in the garage, in the form of a suicide vest. Would it be OK to commit an environmental terrorist act (killing innocent people) if that is what takes to save the planet? Greater good and lesser evil. etc. etc.
=
The minister has an escalating breakdown, but it is obvious that his health and personal demons have been long standing problems. He talked his only son "into a war that had no moral justification". His marriage disintegrated. He is a minister with no flock, a caretaker of an empty church.

The ending of the movie is ambiguous, but it is perfectly clear to me that it is NOT a happy ending.

e
empbee
Aug 28, 2019

God, politics and the environment with an optimistic end. Some good but not new monologues and dialogues.

b
bdehler
Aug 26, 2019

What a disgusting waste of time...waited for something to happen,,very slow moving , stupid plot. It is disgusting because you have to believe that a minister would change over night into a an environmentalist terrorist. Movie tries to justify environmental terrorism by tying it to God and nature. Anyone knows that if you murder innocent women and children, you will end up in HELL if you believe in God. if you don't believe in God, why would the movie pick a minister to be an environmental murdering whacko?? I am so sorry I saw this crappy movie.

e
EvanSchoenfeld
Jul 12, 2019

Is this the first cultural reference to someone opting not to have children on account of Global Warming? That character’s pastor spends much of the movie wrestling with related issues, and at one point asks his superior ‘Would God destroy his own creation?’ The superior responds ‘He did before—for forty days and forty nights.’ That didn’t bother me until it occurred to me how people taking the Noah story literally used to be confined to the lunatic fringe. Is it considered mainstream now? If irrationality spikes with Earth’s temperature, would applying leeches help? If an event that results from human behavior is on a terrible scale of tragedy, shall we blame the mess on divine agency? Perhaps the filmmakers thought this was cool dialog and didn’t intend to refer to contemporary trends. Hope so. Anyway, there was earnest consideration of how people might cope. I think it deserves praise for that.

o
oktexchic
Jul 03, 2019

Waste of time.

d
Donrauf
Jun 19, 2019

This movie has great performances (especially Ethan Hawke) and up until near the end the narrative is compelling. But the ending derails the whole train. I've read other reviews championing the ambiguous ending but it's as if the movie is missing a few last scenes that would complete the story.

rocketman1 May 31, 2019

Sorry but A Loser of a movie The wife and I kept waiting for it to become a " thriller " but it never did Waste of my Life I will never get back

s
SAPL454
May 11, 2019

Excellent movie; excellent actors!

m
mr_chocolate
May 07, 2019

In the few minutes of the Special Features on this DVD, actor Ethan Hawke (Lord of War: 2005; The Magnificent Seven/Maudie: 2016), gave glorious praise for the director/writer of this film: Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver (writer): 1976 ; Raging Bull (writer); 1980; The Last Temptation of Christ (writer): 1988). My partner and I did not share his enthusiasm for this film. It tried to make a couple of points, but we never understood what it was trying to say beyond the priests torn feelings toward the churches financial supporter and the environmental destruction caused by it's supporter.
Good performances by many of the co-stars, Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia: 2008; Les Miserables: 2012; Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again: 2018), Philip Ettinger (Compliance: 2012; Indignation: 2016), to name a few.

4
4peelstreet
Apr 28, 2019

What a waste of my time!!!!
Horrible...

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j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

When writing about oneself, one should show no mercy.
===
Are you sure you don't want to go to Abundant Life? They have a whole team of counselors over there, who are trained and...
-I know, but he doesn't want to. He thinks it's more of a company than a church.
===
You know, a child that's so full of hope and naive beliefs, into a world where that little girl, uh... She grows up to be a young woman and she looks you in the eyes and she says that you knew this all along, didn't you? You see, that... I mean, what? What are you supposed to say then? There's something growing inside Mary. Something as alive as a tree, surely. As an endangered species. Something full of the beauty and mystery of nature.
===
I can promise you that whatever despair you feel about bringing a child
into this world cannot equal the despair of taking a child from it.

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

Can God forgive us? For what we've, uh, done to this world?
-I don't know. Who can know the mind of God? But we can choose a righteous life. Belief... Forgiveness... Grace covers us all. I believe that.
===
What do they like to call it, over where you are? The, uh...
-The museum. ... The souvenir shop. They call it the souvenir shop.
===
You believe in martyrdom, Reverend?
-I'm not sure I know what you mean.
You know, the Saints of God, the early Christians who wouldn't renounce their faith? The missionaries who were attacked in the fields of the Lord.
Do you believe that they died for a purpose? I do. Well, every week, activists are killed trying to protect the environment. A hundred-and-seventeen were killed last year for their beliefs. All right, right there.
Uh, this is Jos Claudio, Ribeiro da Silva.
-Huh?
And that's his wife, Maria. They were gunned down in 2011 in the Amazon.
You know, they were protesting free cutting of the rain forest

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

Look, people have, throughout history, have woken up in the dead of the night, confronted by blackness. The sense that our lives are without meaning. The Sickness Unto Death.
===
Man's great achievements have brought him to the place where life as we know it may cease in the foreseeable future. ...
-If humankind can't overcome its immediate interests enough to ensure its own survival, then you're right. The only rational response is despair.
But do you think that, that... That there's any existence apart from this? This here, right now?
- Uh, yes.
Yeah, right.
- Before us. After us.

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

Maybe I shouldn't care about whether people like me. Did Jesus worry
about being liked?
===
And right in front of us. I mean, one third of the natural world has been destroyed in your lifetime. You know, the earth's temperature will be three degrees centigrade higher. Four is the threshold. You know? "Severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts."
...
By 2050, sea levels two feet higher on the East Coast. Low lying areas underwater across the world. Bangladesh, 20% loss of landmass. Central Africa, 50% reduction in crops due to drought. The Western reservoirs dried up. Climate change refugees. Epidemics. Extreme weather.
...
You know, this social structure can't bear the stress of multiple crises. Opportunistic diseases, anarchy, martial law, the tipping point. And this isn't in some, like, distant future. You will live to see this. You know, my children will experience this unliveability.

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

Did you hear the one about the Choir Mistress and the Minister?
-No.
She chased him around the church and caught him by the organ.
===
Did you hear the one about
the Choir Mistress
and the Minister?
No.
She chased him
around the church
and caught him by the organ.
===
So, how are you?
-Oh, I'm fine.
No, really. I mean, it's been a while since we've talked. And you know, even a pastor needs a pastor.
===
"But your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, and prophets and saints, and for those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the Earth." Revelations 11:18.
===
And I cannot bear your concern, your constant hovering. Your neediness.
You, you're a constant reminder of my own personal inadequacies and failings. You want something that never was and never will be.

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

You see, there used to be a pew over this. And they would move it, and
then they would lift this up. Can you do it? Help me. Yes! Oh! Come around everybody. Slaves would hide in here. Sometimes whole families. Be really careful. All right. Can you imagine that? In the dark. The air hot, shaking with fear. The sound of the slave hunter's horses outside. On their knees,
holding each other's hands, praying for God to save them?
===
Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world.

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

And what of His creation? The Heavens declare the glory of God. God is present everywhere, in every plant, every river, every tiny insect. The whole world is a manifestation of His Holy presence. I think this is an issue
where... Where the church can lead. But... But they say nothing.
- The...
The U.S. Congress still denies climate change? Where were we when
these people were elected? The, the, the... We know who spoke for big business. Right? But who spoke for God?
-"The creation waits in eager expectation "of liberation from bondage." That's Romans 8:23. You understand?
So, we should pollute so God can restore? We should sin so God can forgive? I don't think that's what the Apostle meant.
-I think we're supposed to look with the eyes of Jesus into every living... You don't live in the real world. You don't. You, you are a minister at a tourist church that no one attends.

j
jimg2000
Oct 11, 2018

Thomas Merton. He didn't live in the real world either!
- Yes, he did! He would...
No. He was a monk who lived in a monastery in Kentucky and wrote books!
-Well, somebody has to do something! It's the Earth that hangs in the balance.
Well what if this is His plan? What if we just can't see it?
-You think God wants to destroy his creation?
He did once. For 40 days and 40 nights.
===
Courage is the solution to despair, reason provides no answers. I can't know what the future will bring, We have to choose despite uncertainty. Wisdom is holding two contradictory truths in our mind, simultaneously, Hope and despair. A life without despair is a life without hope. Holding these two ideas in our head is life itself.

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d
Daklingemann
Jan 23, 2019

Other: I returned this at the manchaca branch

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