First Reformed

A deep and powerful character study - 9/10

by The Movie Inspector

A dark thriller, First Reformed is a deep and powerful character study that deals with a conflicted reverend’s struggle with faith and life. It is a shocking, thought provoking and perfectly written movie that raises many existential questions and highlights meaningful lessons.


I have to say it from the beginning, this movie is not for everyone. It’s slow, religious, symbolic and dark, and that may not be a favorable option for some moviegoers. With that being said, let me start off by saying that this movie is far deeper than I expected it to be and I can easily understand why it received an oscar nomination for best original screenplay. Writer and Director Paul Schrader, who found success with his ‘Taxi Driver’ script brings us yet another shocking and powerful script that goes to extremes. ‘First Reformed’ follows a lonely pastor who struggles with despair after a tragedy occurs and is forced to confront many of his own beliefs. 

The movie is deeply philosophical and harrowing at times because it delivers nothing but truth in such a raw manner, and the choice of dialogue makes viewers think carefully about the underlying messages. The script is so rich and well developed that with every biblical quote comes a message so relevant to our character and every religious connotation helps create this sense of uncertainty and somber atmosphere. The movie constantly has the main character placed in a light vs dark scenario, not knowing what to resort to as he takes a look at his life and surroundings, and all the difficulties he faces while trying to create meaning out of a chaotic world. 

The movie tackles issues of climate change and environmental pollution, showing just how large industrial corporations aim to maximize their profits while turning the earth’s green into a wasteland. The merging of faith and nature works perfectly and has so much context in regards to our character’s journey because they are the two issues that force him to confront himself. Now the most controversial part of the movie comes in the ending, which will most definitely divide viewers due to how a certain element was treated. I found it to be suitable and definitely isn’t what it appears to be but that may not be the case for everyone as it is rather open ended. It’s a shockingly real movie that’s well worth a viewing!


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