Ernst Toller (Hawke), a former military chaplain, presides over an historic Dutch Reform church in upstate New York. His dwindling congregation is dwarfed by “Abundant Life”, the local mega-church run by the Reverend Jeffers (Kyles). When a pregnant parishioner Mary (Seyfried) comes to Toller for help, the pastor, already struggling with past tragedies, confronts fresh dilemmas of faith and morality.
Schrader draws on the austerity of French filmmaker Robert Bresson and his own back catalogue to paint a picture of a man in anguish pushed to extreme action. Hawke has never been better, winning both New York and Los Angeles Critics’ awards for his powerful, wrenching performance. Schrader’s literate, deeply felt script and grim, stark mise-en-scene result in one of this iconic filmmaker’s finest works to date.