66 user 140 critic

First Reformed (2017)

R | | Drama, Thriller | 18 May 2018 (USA)
2:15 | Trailer
A priest of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.



339 ( 47)
3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
... Mary
... Reverend Ernst Toller
... Reverend Joel Jeffers (as Cedric Antonio Kyles)
... Edward Balq
... Esther
... Roger
... Michael
... Nurse Cindy
... Youth Choir Member
... Youth Choir Member
... John Elder
... Doctor
... Youth Director
... Coroner
... Sheriff


Forty-six year old Reverend Ernst Toller is the pastor at the historic First Reformed Church in upstate New York. It is seen as the "tourist" church or the "souvenir shop" (its historical significance partly it being a stop on the underground railroad before the slaves crossed into Canada) by Abundant Life, which owns the church and which operates a modern self-named five thousand seat church overseen by Reverend Joel Jeffers. First Reformed is celebrating its two hundred fiftieth anniversary this year, for which a major event is planned, modest in size only at First Reformed itself although the dignitaries like the governor and mayor will be at attendance there, while the event will be simulcast at Abundant Life. Most of the speech-making will be done by local industrialist Ed Balq, a major benefactor of Abundant Life and who is the major donor for the necessary upgrades at First Reformed to be able to hold the event there, and for the event itself, while Toller's participation will ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some disturbing violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 May 2018 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

First Reformed  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$97,562, 20 May 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,410,033, 19 July 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the first movie in which Cedric the Entertainer is credited under his real name, Cedric Kyles. See more »


In each of the cafe scenes at the mega church, the coffee cups still have the manufacturer stickers on the bottoms. See more »


Reverend Ernst Toller: Well somebody's got to do something!
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User Reviews

I wanted to like it more
31 May 2018 | by See all my reviews

SPOILER: I'm not sure that I understand the praise for this film and regret that my review may be interpreted as a political reaction. I'll applaud a good film whether I hold the beliefs of the maker(s). I think in bullet points so here are my views on the Pros & Cons. Pros

  • Solid framing, shots, & set design. From the initial shot of the church to the biking scene, to his minimalist furnishings, to the emptiness of the mega-church, I felt like everything visually (barring sfx) was solid & beautiful
  • Premise is promising
  • Incongruity between reverend's journey and supporting plot: The leaps the main character makes in the movie are at odds with the presented plot and character background. I think it is a disservice to those vulnerable to fanatical extremism to represent such an easy and shallow transition into said self annihilation & willingness to destroy others. This is a topic still under examination (NY Times 5/31/18), but this film would suggest that a reasonable model for creating a fanatic is to create a 46 year old, white divorcee who lost a child, attended seminary, runs a small church, & suspect he may have cancer. Add one counseling session with a young, environmental fanatic and boom: suicide bomber. Is this a remotely probable demographic?
  • Thrown away opportunities: the underground railroad tie in and "gift shop church" as presented were appendages that missed strong opportunities drive the story
  • Shallow spiritual platitudes: This film is reviewed by some as a spiritual / Christian engagement into responsibility for how we treat the earth. There is some support here, but the actual intellectual engagement at a theological level (supposedly this character's driving mentality) are a few obvious scripture quotes and brief exchanges. I have engaged in far deeper conversations with environmental activists on Christian under-pinning for their beliefs than this film even considers. It isn't of substance.
  • Corporate blame: The story takes a cliche view of the blame by pointing to corporations and the rich exploiting the environment & maneuvering the government officials. This is part of the story, but it is convenient when I can leave a theater on the global consequences of climate change and not feel an iota of responsibility or need to change. Thank you, for the pat on the back and reinforcement of smug slactivism.
  • Hawke's portrayal: he nailed the glassy-eyed, soulless addict. Unfortunately, the character needed to be so much more than this to pull such grand issues together.
Conclusion: Based on the narrative, I'm forced into a few possible explanations for the character's development: 1. Anomalous psychotic break not shown on film 2. Months to years of backstory (this story covers about 8 weeks) left out to explain character's need to grab on to this fanaticism as a logical consequence of his mental state & surroundings. 3. The reverend is a dehumanized object created by writer/director as a Christ figure to suffer for the muddled attempt to tie spirituality, corporate responsibility, social apathy, and environmentalism into a cohesive whole. I'm leaning toward the latter. Comments welcomed.

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