First Reformed

Riskily, I’d already been speaking highly of this film to people purely on the strength of its trailer, and how several critics I like seemed to like it a whole bunch.

And maybe I shouldn’t have finally sat down for the art house Calvinist climate change drama after two large glasses of white wine, as you’d probably think this is the kind of movie where now I’d do a play on “sobering”. But First Reformed is a strange bold harrowing high, so careful and strickening and wild and unanswerable that instead of sobering up I came out of that feeling like I was haunted, like I was fucking possessed, stumbling along the streets breathing around these slow seizes of my ribcage. I think I’ve discovered a new genre I love: something restrained yet outrageous. The Phantom Threads of the world. Movies that respond “yes” when you ask “just slowly fuck me up!”

This movie is so well-placed in itself and in the current moment…I’m struck, I’m still reveling. The lovely lonely damaged fierceness of Ethan Hawke, who has aged into exactly the kind of handsome that still might become a reverend. The unguarded realism of Amanda Seyfried’s performance, within precisely my favorite amount of experiential surrealism. The spare, tonal way Paul Schrader uses framing and music. How it’s all too transcendental to say it goes off the rails, more that it goes for broke, for breaking, creating something like the Austere Uncanny. You know that thing where you can feel your heart beating in your stomach? The final act of First Reformed.

I have just one complaint and it’s that the blood was so good and I wanted more, I wanted blood just welling through and no I’m not explaining further and yes that’s intended to be the most acute kind of shrouded spoiler.

Are you washed – ARE YOU WASHED / In the blood – IN THE BLOOD / IN THE SOUL-CLEANSING BLOOD OF THE LAAAMMB

Okay I’m out!!

4 thoughts on “First Reformed

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