Renew Radar: FIRST REFORMED

Renew Radar is a recurring feature that highlights some of the titles you may see on our screen in the coming months. We may not get to all of the featured films, but these are the movies on our radar.

Ethan Hawke gives an intense performance in “First Reformed.” (photo: A24)

Indie icon Ethan Hawke is no stranger to difficult and complex roles. His latest, Paul Schrader’s FIRST REFORMED, reinforces his talent and intensity as an actor.

Hawke plays a pastor at a small church in upstate New York as it prepares for its 250th anniversary. After meeting with a troubled young man, the pastor begins to explore his own relationship with faith. The script is a well-paced and a gripping story from Schrader who also penned Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ for Scorsese in addition to directing his own lauded scripts: Blue Collar, Hardcore, American Gigolo, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (among others.)

FIRST REFORMED is a powerful, contemplative film that evokes Bergman and Tarkovsky in style and substance. It is a great reminder how powerful Hawke can be — it would be hard to imagine another actor in this role. There are moments that are difficult to watch, but they are deftly handled by a master filmmaker and his hugely talented cast.

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