What is faith, if left untested? As well as being the tagline for my graduation film is also coincidentally happens to be a similar question that is answered in Martin Scorsese’s new epic film. With a name so cemented into the history books of cinema like Scorsese, you already know that he is going to take you on a journey of the highest quality. Silence took decades to be made and it is safe to say that it was a project that Scorsese’s patience in this story paid off.
Shūsaku Endō’s historical novel is brought to the screen highlighting just how patience a man can be with faith and how one is torn by religion and the urge to do what is clearly right and the expense of your faith. This is best highlighted in scenes of excruciating torture of Japanese Christians and the psychological torture of Father Rodrigues (played by Andrew Garfield). The suffering of the characters is effortlessly translated to the audience and in return it is received with a shared pain and an increased belief in Father Rodrigues to stay strong in a very hostile 17th century Japan. It is almost tempting to pray for his success in maintaining Rodriguez’ devotion to his church.
Andrew Garfield gives what is possibly his best performance in a film and could very easily be in the running for best actor at this year’s Academy Awards, his ability to transition from a humble priest to a man hollowed and on the brink of insanity is masterfully perfected. Adam Driver also stars as Father Garrpe who’s character is less humble that Father Rodrigues accompanies him on their journey into Japan to find Father Ferreira (played by Liam Neeson). These two give great performances as their respected characters but Andrew Garfield’s intensity quickly overshadows the performances of Driver and Neeson.
This is very much Father Rodrigues’ journey of suffering much like that of Jesus, you’ll also be able to see many images and parallels of Jesus’ compassion for the Christian faith mostly during the scenes involving the character of Kichijiro, a man who manages to be both a trustworthy and untrustworthy character but we take pity on him because of how weak spirited he is in his need to continue to confess his sins making him a very sympathetic character.
I always appreciated Scorsese for respecting world cinema, one of the reasons why I enjoyed his 2011 film Hugo was because of his respect for early French cinema and the works of Georges Méliès (which I highly recommend watching for anyone interested in the history of cinema), Silence respects the different craftsmanship of Asian cinema, if he were alive I could easily see Akira Kurosawa adapting this story as his own. the film is shot with an attention to placing us in the position of the character so the feelings of the tortured souls are felt with ease, but also letting us see the struggling influence of Christianity in Japan by tightening the frame to make the practices more secret and underground like.
The dialogue of Silence is like poetry, this a very carefully written script with time taken for each word a character says. It is difficult to explain the plot within the screenplay because of one reason, there is no plot. The trailers would have you believe that Silence is a rescue mission and was marketed as such in said trailer. You may argue that Silence rids the rescue mission in a heartbeat, but that way of thinking is for audiences who go to see films of their story. But if you really pay attention to the humanity in Silence, it becomes something larger than itself, this will be certainly be picked up by audience members who look for messages in films.
As well as suffering from making the characters of Garrpe and Ferreria feel only slightly irrelevant, the film feels as though film could have been cut down significantly from its 2 hour 40 minute run time. Scorsese’s previous film The Wolf of Wall Street managed to retain entertainment for this same amount of time, but that is because The Wolf of Wall Street has a hyperactive tone and pacing. Silence on the other hand does not have a sped-up pace therefore the film demands attention for every frame and every second.
The very few negatives of Silence are shattered by the intelligence of Martin Scorsese for presenting a film so unlike what most of Hollywood has and will be grinding out for us in the coming year. I am so thankful that there are director’s like Martin Scorsese who, like myself, treat cinema as their religion because it make cinema a much more sophisticated art form and while the glitz of a Marvel or Disney film can take audience members away from Silence, it is films like this that will be talked about for decades to come as a Scorsese and cinema classic.
Final Result: 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen Silence? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts or opinion in the comments below.
Next Time: La La Land