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TIFF Review: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

The suicide of a parishioner causes a church minister to question the religious institution that he represents.

A young pregnant woman (Amanda Seyfried) has a church minister (Ethan Hawke) council her depressed activist husband (Philip Ettinger) who believes that the world is no place for their unborn child to be live in.  The discovery of a suicide bomber jacket, a suicide, and the close connection between the church and big business causes the religious administrator to have a crisis of faith.

In the vein of Taxi Driver, filmmaker Paul Schrader explores the transformation of an ordinary man into a purveyor of violence.  The composition of the lingering imagery is painterly and stark reminiscent of a Puritan attitude.  Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried play their parts well.  The narration provides insight into the conflicted mind of the protagonist and in the process services the story.  The conclusion has a touch of Thomas Moore which for some will be cathartic while others will be left confused.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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