There have been a lot of chatter about this movie being considered for Oscar nominations, for both the film and for Ethan Hawke, its main star, but I have to say, I am not seeing that.
Ethan Hawke is solid here, but I did not enjoy First Reformed very much.
Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a middle-aged pastor with a tragic backstory at a small church in upstate New York. He spends his days giving tours of the church, which was once a stop on the Underground Railway. When one of his parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) comes to him and requests that Reverend Toller talk with her husband, a radical environmentalist who could be planning something violent, a crisis in faith and hope springs into the heart of Toller.
The film deals with many weighty topics, including climate change and how the people of the planet are affecting the negative change and the church’s silence on the topic. This felt a bit preachy, ironic I know.
Toller is also sick, suffering through a tumor that is slowly causing him to fade away. The tumor continued to work on his faith as does his developing relationship with Seyfried to lead Toller to take some drastic steps.
Reverend Toller is having a crisis of faith and, perhaps even, a breakdown of some sort. It is unclear how much the cancer that is destroying his body (if that is even a real thing) is causing this to happen. There is a dream-like point of view throughout the movie that makes specifics difficult to maintain.
All I know for certain is that the film failed to maintain my attention very well and, despite a strong performance from Ethan Hawke, I was not happy with where the film was going. Then, the underwhelming ending did not help in the consideration of the movie. I have very little faith for this film.