Reverend Ernst Toller is suffering a crisis of faith in the movie from director Paul Schrader. "First Reformed" is described by distributor A24 as "the unholy lovechild of 'A Ghost Story' and 'Taxi Driver,'" the latter of which was also written by Schrader.
Toller grimly watches as his small upstate New York church's congregation dwindles and the world around him grows increasingly chaotic. Then a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks for his help with her radical environmentalist husband and the priest finds himself confronting past demons and gaining redemption from an act of violence.
The trailer looks like a return to form for Schrader, the kind of dark, melancholic struggle within the soul that we saw his write or co-write in "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull." And Hawke's searing performance could put him into awards conversations later in the year.
"First Reformed" opens in theaters May 18.