A dark and thought-provoking examination of the mind’s vulnerability to extremist thought. Writer-director Paul Schrader’s past screenplays include Scorsese classics Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and First Reformed manages to live up to that high standard. This is a very smartly written film that manages to juggle a number of huge themes - environmentalism, climate change, mental illness, addiction, existentialism, conspiracy, martyrdom, religion and its intersection with capitalism - with finesse and confidence. Every character and plot development in the film work harmoniously together to thoroughly explore these ideas as it builds, increasingly unsettlingly, towards its memorable and potent conclusion. Though the film is dark and at times quite disturbing - which is very much thanks in part to the absolutely chilling score by dark ambient musician Lustmord - it also smartly throws quite a bit of dry, black comedy into the mix to play up the more absurd aspects of the story. Ethan Hawke gives an excellent, layered performance as well of a character whose outward composure conceals his swirling inner turmoil. Overall an accomplished and unsettling examination of some highly topical themes with a strong screenplay that’s likely to reveal more with repeat viewings.