ayad’s review published on Letterboxd:
every single word spoken in this movie has weight, you could almost feel it carried across the screen in the tightly squared 4:3 ratio which fit this film ever so gracefully. the struggle of faith added to desperation and the strain of the past was explored excellently here through a character who may seem shallow at first, but he gets absolutely dissected near the end. how can a man so broken guide and lead others? how can faith and belief work in a world that seems so bent on destroying itself? ethan hawke delivers an astounding performance showing us the cracks in the reverends life and how difficult it is to cope with all the problems tumbling down on him. i’ve never had a good relationship with religion and although it wasn’t extreme, seeing this struggle brought to life in a form was truly something special it’s quite hard for me to explain just how deep yet subtle all this actually is i’m sure if you’ve seen this movie you understand how every little detail means something, how every breathe and every sigh speaks volumes. the more i think about it the more i realize how first reformed deserves a higher rating but i will wait and see if it still holds up once i watch it again which will probably be very soon since it’s tender atmosphere feels so inviting and attractive in a way, after all this is a24. can’t believe this is my first shrader film all of his movies have been on my watchlist for ages but after this gentle, haunting experience i’ll be sure to check out his other work ASAP.