First Reformed – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Ethan Hawke

First Reformed
First Reformed is the name of the church run by Rev. Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), who begins to keep a diary for one year, with the intent that, after this time, he’ll destroy it. Quite why he starts is never explained, but then as well as it being a starting point for the story, it shows the randomness of life.

For a lot of the film’s time, his work is taken up with Mary (Amanda Seyfried), a young woman whose husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger), is struggling to come to terms with them having a child, as she’s pregnant. Michael’s obsessed with the state of the world and so-called ‘man-made global warming’, to the point where he takes things too far for most sensible people.

(Oh, you believe in man-made global warming over what Mother Nature can do, simply because someone told you that scientists said this, that and the other? Just think who profits from it all? That, and this film, really does show what a cult it is, along with religion, in fact, so that’s two positive scores on the board for writer/director Paul Schrader)


Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) with Mary (Amanda Seyfried) and that lamp!


Beyond that, Toller’s health isn’t doing too well, and he’s also preparing for the church’s 250th anniversary with Reverend Joel Jeffers (Cedric Antonio Kyles), but I don’t want to say too much else as it’s best just to let it all unfold.

I’ll only add that Ethan Hawke is superb in this, and I also like the way Mary has a lamp in her lounge which is shaped like a half-open eye.

The film was shot in a 1.37:1 Academy ratio, aka almost 4:3, so its the same way we used to watch TV many years ago. This is a rarity, these days, but it’s still used, and when it’s done well with great compositions, the use of the ratio can be very effective, as shown below with some great cinematography.

This film also restores my faith in Mr Schrader after his last two godawful films, Dog Eat Dog and Dying Of The Light. Hence, I was concerned before watching this but, thankfully, I didn’t need to be.

First Reformed is released in cinemas tomorrow, and is available to pre-order on DVD.


An example of the fantastic cinematography…


Detailed specs:

Cert:
Running time: 114 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures UK
Year: 2018
Format: 1.37:1
Released: July 13th 2018
Rating: 7.5/10

Director: Paul Schrader
Screenplay: Paul Schrader
Music: Brian Williams

Cast:
Reverend Ernst Toller: Ethan Hawke
Mary Menasa: Amanda Seyfried
Reverend Joel Jeffers: Cedric Antonio Kyles
Esther: Victoria Hill
Edward Balq: Michael Gaston
Michael Menasa: Philip Ettinger
Roger: Van Hansis
John Elder: Bill Hoag

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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