First Reformed

series: Films
A film about a priest (Ethan Hawke) spiralling into madness

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tags: movie review; movies;

First Reformed is a movie by written and directed by Paul Schrader, who also was instrumental in the script for cult classic Taxi Driver. The movie stars Ethan Hawke, which was quite the reason why I chose to watch it. He plays the role of a priest struggling with guilt and emotion, and his eventual spiral (or descent?) into a form of madness.

The movie is slow, and has very much an independent small film feel to it. Which is good. It lends itself to the story very well. I saw this movie at the IFI, a local cinema in Temple Bar. The screen was not widescreen, instead being more square-ish (think 4:3). The cinematography has that quality which supports the story set in a small place.

I will not go into specifics, for the sake of keeping this post short. Needless to say, the movie was good. Slow, but quite a powerhouse. The ending, without giving out spoilers, was visceral. As I left, I could not understand what to make of it. I could come up with several hypothesis, each as unlikely as the other. At the end, it came down to whether I wanted to imagine a happy ending or a logical ending or just take what was shown on the screen in a literal sense. I decided to accept the ambiguity as an unknown, and keep it at that.

Yes, I do recommend watching this film, though it will not be according to everyone's tastes.