Ethan Hawke is a pastor whose faith is tested by the grim realities of the modern world in a new trailer for Paul Schrader's First Reformed. Both Hawke and writer-director Schrader have earned rave reviews for the timely film, which screened at last year's Venice Film Festival as well as this year's SXSW. Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, and Michael Gaston co-star in the powerful drama from A24.
Ethan Hawke plays Toller, a former military chaplain tortured by guilt over the death of his soldier son. When Toller offers comfort to the widow (Amanda Seyfried) of a man who committed suicide, he finds himself coming face-to-face with the modern world and all its new horrors. One critic described the film as "an outrageous update of Taxi Driver for a world of Liveleak videos and climate change."
A24 has released a new trailer for First Reformed, previewing pastor Ethan Hawke's journey into the heart of darkness. Hawke's performance as the tortured man of the cloth who holds onto his faith in the face of horror has received strong reviews. "Ethan Hawke is galvanizing in the role he was born to play," says one blurb. See the trailer above.
Writer-director Schrader is primarily known for his collaborations with Martin Scorsese, beginning with 1976's classic Taxi Driver, about a deranged cabbie (Robert De Niro) going on a violent killing spree. Schrader would later write Scorsese's Best Picture nominee Raging Bull as well as the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ. Stunningly, Schrader has never received an Academy Award nomination for screenwriting. As both a writer and director, Schrader has shown a fascination with depicting tortured men plunged into moral crisis. Often, these crises receive horrifically violent resolutions.
The first thing that stands out about the trailer for First Reformed is its boxy aspect ratio, reminiscent of last year's A24 release A Ghost Story. Schrader clearly is going for an austere look and feel with this film, which indeed seems in keeping with its characters and themes. Schrader has previously cited several his influences on the movie, primarily Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky and Robert Bresson; directors known for crafting contemplative films that grappled with powerful moral and religious issues. Of course, Schrader also has a reputation for getting violent and weird. His directorial output includes a wide range of films across many genres, including the memorably surreal horror movie Cat People. His work in recent years has not been especially impressive though, which is why many are hailing First Reformed as a comeback.
First Reformed begins playing in theaters on June 22, 2018.