First Reformed ★★★

Boy, I hate trying to rate films like this. Which is to say, I hate trying to rate films that I feel like I should have enjoyed more than I actually did. It's clearly so well made, but it just didn't grab me like I was hoping it would. If you're an absolute film nerd, you'll probably appreciate First Reformed purely based on Schrader's influences and inspirations(or just Schrader's own filmography). But if you're like me and haven't gotten around to watching a Tarkovsky film yet(I promise they're on my watchlist!), this may fall flat in comparison to the hype.

Like I said, it's a tough film to rate. Everything is done with such pure intention, and it creates for some very iconic scenes. It looks great. It sounds better. Still, it just didn't feel right to me. I found Toller's descent to be too rapid and convenient, like wish fulfillment for the audience's feelings about religious ignorance. I thought the film's portrayal of women was mildly troubling, too.

And without spoiling the ending, which is a big part of the hype around this film, the last scene doesn't feel very well established up to that point, regardless of how you interpret it. In a vaccuum, I really love the scene. But I wish either of the two most obvious interpretations made sense within the reality of the film we viewed, and for me, they didnt.

I'm probably going to be flip-flopping on my final score for First Reformed as I continue to digest the film. And at the end of the day that's what good cinema should be: something to digest. Insert Pepto-Bismol joke here.