The film centers on Ernst Toller (Hawke), a church minister and ex-military chaplain, who continues to struggle with the grief over losing his son in war. Though getting by with his daily routine, Toller reaches his breaking point when a church member (Amanda Seyfried) confides in him during counseling with her radical environmentalist husband. Soon, his faith is challenged as he is catapulted into a hysteria over the church’s suspicious affairs and its hidden complicity with unethical corporations.
“I know that nothing can change, and I know that there is no hope,” Toller is overheard saying, as he slowly realizes that he now faces a flawed existential perspective and apparent crisis of faith. “Can God forgive us for what we’ve done to this world?”
Schrader wrote and directed the visually enticing thriller. Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Frank Murray, Jack Binder, Greg Clark, Victoria Hill, Gary Hamilton and Deepak Sikka produced, with Brian Beckmann, Philip Burgin, Brooke Lyndon-Stanford, Martin McCabe, Luca Scalisi, Mick Southworth and Ying Ye serving as executive producers.
The film premiered during last year’s Venice Film Festival, with The Hollywood Reporter‘s review calling it Schrader’s “most effective work as a director since Auto Focus 15 years ago.”
Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston and Van Hansis also star.
First Reformed is set to hit theaters May 18.