When Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest directors of all time, attaches himself to a film, my ears are perked. It’s hard for me to think of any bad films the man has done. Shutter Island was mediocre as was Gangs of New York but top to bottom most of his films are acclaimed. Personally my favorite film of his is The Departed. From the soundtrack to the story to the acting, it’s a masterpiece. Silence is another one to add to the list of great films on Scorsese’s filmography.
Silence is a film based off the 1969 book of the same name by Shûsaku Endô. Andrew Garfield yet again brings in an amazing performance this year alongside his portrayal as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge. His performance in Hacksaw Ridge pulled me in more but that’s not to take anything away from this performance as Father Sebastiao Rodrigues, a Portugese priest who alongside Francisco Garrpe, played by Adam Driver, go on a mission to locate Father Cristóvão Ferreira, played by Liam Neeson, who the church has lost contact with since him arriving in Japan. This movie takes place mainly in the 1630’s where Christianity was forbidden in Japan and anyone that was Christian had to apostatize, or disown, their faith by stepping, or trample, on a carved image of Christ. Those that fail to do this risk dire consequences. This is Garfield’s film and he takes us on a journey that has his faith strongly tested. For full disclosure of this review, my stance on religion is that I do believe in God and Jesus Christ but I don’t practice my faith. This film addresses questions and issues I have with religion by not glorifying it and rather asking questions that make you think, which I really liked. Whatever your beliefs, I think this is a film worth seeing.
There are also solid performances from Driver & Neeson. Adam Driver lost a lot of weight for this film and it definitely shows as his face was distracting at times, which actually took me out of the movie at times. Someone looking like that isn’t pleasant to watch but he did it for the role and I can respect that. One of the better performances in the film though was that of the Inquisitor Inoue, played by Issei Ogata. Inoue is a person who believes in what he is doing and also raises questions about Christianity and why the priests find it necessary to bring their faith to Japan. He is also at times somewhat of comic relief as he has a voice that you cant help but enjoy but don’t take that to mean he’s a kind warm individual. He instructs some disturbing torture scenes that I don’t think any normal rational person would think of. There is a scene that is in the trailer featuring individuals tied up on crucifix like structures in the ocean and left to die, which was incredible to watch and Scorsese made you feel the suffering of that scene and other torture scenes by showing the acts and then Garfield would clean it up with his emotional reactions.
Silence is a film I want to see again. I enjoyed thinking about the questions raised in this movie and the concept of religion in general. On top of that, the persecution of Christians in Japan historically did happen and I always enjoy learning about history I never knew about. Besides Driver’s face, there were other things that kept Silence from being a great film for me but that would include SPOILERS so I will just say that whatever your belief or if you enjoy good film, you should see Silence. Obviously this is a departure from what we’ve come to expect from Scorsese with films like Goodfellas, Casino, and The Wolf of Wall Street, so don’t expect a film full of violence and vulgarity.
Silence gets an 8/10