With the 46th annual Telluride Film Festival opening next weekend (Aug. 30–Sept. 2), now seems like a fine time to dig into TFF’s past and highlight a few recent masterpieces. Let’s start with 2017’s First Reformed, a movie whose righteous anger seems to build with each passing year.
Written and directed by Paul Schrader, First Reformed closely follows Rev. Toller (Ethan Hawke, magnificent) through his greatest crisis. Thematically, First Reformed is a culmination of Schrader’s “man in a room” movies — a topic I discuss in this 2018 essay for VaugeVisages, but, stylistically, First Reformed finally brings Schrader to the transcendental style he wrote about as a film student at UCLA in the 1960s.
First Reformed is streaming on Amazon Prime and Kanopy. And if you really want to feel like you are watching it at Telluride, I have transcribed the 2017 post-screening conversation between Schrader, Hawke, and IndieWire’s Eric Kohn here.