Photo by Joy Asico
Paul Schrader
Paul Schrader

“This is going out to the audience: Questions for Paul,” MPAA CEO Ambassador Charles Rivkin asked the audience after the screening of Paul Schrader’s First Reformed at The National Archives. “Are you in despair?” “Uh, technically yes,” answered Schrader. If that seems like a strange question and even stranger answer, it is……unless you have seen the movie.  So, let’s back up a bit!

First Reformed is a 2017 American drama film written and directed by Paul Schrader starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and Cedric Kyles.  The premise: Toller (played brilliantly by Hawke) is a former military chaplain struggling with the death of his son who he encouraged to enlist in the armed forces. He meets Mary (Amanda Seyfried), seeking counseling for her radical environmentalist husband which further challenges his beliefs.