Saw the spiritual drama-slash-thriller First Reformed last night. As always, Katja figured out the mysterious parts: Ernst Toller, the pastor, commits suicide, and his rapturous embrace of the young woman Mary is his last moment of consciousness.
Katja’s reading, correct in my view, was foreshadowed earlier when the pastor mused about the last thought of someone who shoots himself in the head. And for another bit of evidence for this interpretation, the young woman refers to him by his first name, Ernst, which she hadn’t done throughout the film.
Oh, and it was established earlier in the scene that the the pastor’s residence was securely locked. In this case, a fully human Mary could not have entered the premises.
So, the movie is great. The reviewers have teased out the Dreyer, Bresson, and Bergman influences. Ethan Hawke is in fine form, surrounded by a solid cast that includes Amanda Seyfried and Cedric Kyles (AKA Cedric the Entertainer).
Here is a nice profile of the filmmaker, Paul Schrader. Choice bit below:
“Because we’ve democratized filmmaking, the good news is almost anybody can make a film; the bad news is nobody can make any money,” Schrader says. “Movies were born of capitalism: You pay for it, we’ll make it for you. There was no tradition of the courts and the church and all that. Therefore, it had a special relationship to capitalism that really protected it. Now that’s broken, and so it’s like every other art form: It’s like poetry, or novels, or painting.”