An austere but rewarding drama starring Ethan Hawke as a pastor undergoing a profound spiritual crisis.
Writer-director Paul Schrader (the creator of Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle) gets a superb performance from Hawke as the man of God at a small and historic, but poorly attended Dutch Reform church in upstate New York.
Already wracked with doubts about his faith and purpose, he plunges even deeper into despair after a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks him to counsel her pessimistic radical environmentalist husband.
This is bleak stuff, indeed, but Schrader keeps us gripped, wondering and dreading what steps Hawke’s character might take. And when we do reach the end, Schrader pulls off a truly surprising, transcendent climax reminiscent of Carl Dreyer’s 1955 masterpiece Ordet.