When a director of the stature and reputation of Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, The Departed) spends decades on the writing and production of a film then it is somewhat of an understatement to say that the anticipation is high. Despite the fact that he has a CV that most directors would like to boast the half of it must be said that Scorsese’s latest film, Silence, is his baby. He thought about its subject (religion) and how he wanted to portray it for many, many years. There was also the issue of him having time in his schedule to write and make the film. Bottom line is that it was worth the time and effort because this is a spectacular film in many ways.
After embarking on a missionary trip to Japan on behalf of the Catholic Church, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson – Schindler’s List, Taken) has lapsed. Meaning that the rumours are that he has renounced his faith. As he was a mentor to them, two young priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge, The Amazing Spider-Man) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver – from television’s Girls), travel to Japan hoping to find him and clear his name.
Once in Japan it is not what they expected. They discover that Christians have to hide themselves with missionary work only able to be done under the cover of night. Still they conduct their search for Ferreira. As time passes they find themselves caught in the middle of a persecution and killing of Christians. Not only are they physically in danger, but their faith is tested time and time again.
The time it took this master to construct this film was well worth it as the execution and precision is incredible. From the sumptuous (would you expect anything else from Scorsese?) way it looks to the passionate score. Everything has been carefully thought out and mulled over. Each word the right one and each dreary vista lends to the tone. There are not too many directors who are skillful enough to have even attempted Silence. Scorsese not only attempted, but succeeded. An experience rather than just entertainment.
Once again Andrew Garfield shows that he is better than those Spider-Man films. Like his recent turn in Hacksaw Ridge he is fully committed to the character and gets the physicality of the role along with the emotional depth of his character. You feel his character’s struggle as you watch with his brilliance making everything that happens palpable.
Despite all the high praise I willingly admit this is not a film for everyone. Quite philosophical in tone and occasionally hard to watch, there will be those who do not want to make the effort. Plenty of complexities are involved in the story and resulting emotions. Some might even find the fact that he does not lay everything out plainly for the viewer as frustrating. You are expected to think for yourself and interpret things as you would like. Work is involved. We also examine religion as it has not been before. What does it mean to humans? Why do we even have it? How we react to our faith being tested? It is also a long film at 2 hours 41 minutes, so there is a time commitment to make.
-Martin Scorsese’s Journey Into Silence