Okay, this blew me away.
Okay, that may not be too much of a surprise. I could make a fine list of films that I relate to that are about struggling religious leaders: The Mission, Calvary, The Overnighters, Machine Gun Preacher...well, maybe not that one. I would certainly add First Reformed to that list.
Here is what I saw. You guys tell me if you feel the same.
The world needs to be saved. Literally. Humans are destroying the planet and we have different powers who *could* participate in it's salvation. The main players in this story are big business and big church.
But the question of the film is What is the means of salvation?
Michael = Despair-- There is no hope, human life must just end.
Rev. Toller = Self-sacrifice, mostly as personal redemption
Esther = Self-care, which Toller hates because he's chosen self-sacrifice
Pastor Jeffers = The only salvation is through the destruction of the world
Balq = The world doesn't need to be saved, we are already doing all we can
Bomb vest = Destroy the enemies of the world, recognizing that innocents will also be destroyed
Mary = Hope in the future, creating new life
I could bring up the religious allegory, but a lot of it is pretty obvious.
The final scene where Toller is leaning between two methods and then a third appears and she is chosen. But I wonder about their future. Has he taken Michael's place? Is he going to return to despair? What will Mary be saddled with, having him raise her child?
Anyway, just some thoughts.