In the 17th century, two Jesuit priests travel to Japan at a time when Christians are being persecuted and killed because of their faith.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese
Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson,
Tadanobu Asano, Yôsuke Kubozuka, Issei Ogata
Remake of 1971's Silence
Based on the novel by Shûsaku Endô
Oscar Nominations - Best Cinematography
Silence is nothing less than an ambitious film, even for a legend like Martin Scorsese. It deals with complex moral issues and tackles the nature of faith, setting the stage during a time and place where Christians were hunted down and butchered because of their faith. Scorsese has delivered some groundbreaking films in his time, from Raging Bull to Goodfellas to The Wolf of Wall Street. Silence, unfortunately, is no such film. Despite a flawless performance from Andrew Garfield, this film has a very weak narrative structure and very little to keep the audience invested. It stands solely on the performances of its cast and not on any sort of story.
Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play two Jesuit priests who travel to Shogunate dominated Japan to find their fellow priest, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who has gone missing and is rumored to have renounced his faith. We follow Garfield's Father Rodrigues, who attempts to renew the Christian faith in Japan and convert as many who will follow him. Regrettably, he is captured by the Shogunate and tortured both mentally and physically in hopes that he will renounce his faith. The film really doesn't kick off until Garfield's capture, which is almost an hour and a half into the runtime. Frankly speaking, the film is a drag. It rarely shows signs of speeding up and developing some sort of audience investment. By the end, we have a new character, a German traveler, telling us what happened via a shoehorned-in voiceover. It feels forced and unnatural compared to the naturalistic tone the rest of the movie has.
Scorsese planned this film over the course of twenty years. It was his ultimate passion project. I hate to say it didn't really work out for him. Not only did it bomb financially, it received no award buzz and audiences found it boring and preachy. I have to say I agree with them. This isn't a Scorsese masterpiece I would ever watch again. I appreciate the reasons for wanting to make it, but I, like most people, watch movies to be entertained and forget about the ugliness of life for a while. Films like Silence remind you that the world is dark and full of fear, and we all already know that. Hopefully, Scorsese brings everything to the table with The Irishman. I'd hate for him to drop the ball again.