First Reformed is a stroke of near-divine genius. Just finished reading the script (God, available after months and months of searching on the interwebs) and that itself has been an experience in and of itself. Actually, you will see that many scenes have been omitted; among other “unconventional” things, like tracking in at 100+ scenes (but some of these are, to be sure, merely establishing shots). And also, we could add, cinematically, at it’s Academy aspect ratio.

But storywise, perhaps what makes First Reformed so striking is that it breathes like a great, groaning spiritual epiphany. A sort of Dark Night of the Soul, accessible to audiences of all walks, and not too heady. Even the lines take on a sort of biblical simplicity, channeled through the cleric, played wonderfully by Ethan Hawke.

Here is a story that it is problematic for us — especially, and without giving away spoilers — it’s ending. Yes it’s ending, and the choice that Father Toller makes — it boils from his soul as a wild impossibility, and yet — enough of his soul writhes for us, in the script, on the screen — for us to “buy” it and gasp.

So I will add you one. Yes — more scripts that have a soul — more American scripts that have…a soul.

-Your ‘Merican expat would-be-filmmaker follower in the Old Ex-Yugo.

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Raconteur and essayist with a funny bone. Educator by profession.

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Allen Bauman

Allen Bauman

Raconteur and essayist with a funny bone. Educator by profession.