Silence sees one of most iconic filmmakers back in the directors chair as Martin Scorsese finally brings his passion project to the big screen. Silence tells the story of two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in search of their mentor. Scorsese had stated in many interviews over the years that he had always wanted to adapt the novel of the same name into a feature length film. As with many of his projects he struggled to find funding so he looked to other, more secure jobs, though this story still stayed close to his heart. 28 years later, it’s finally making its way into cinemas around the world. Led by a trio of fascinating performances, Scorsese takes us on a 160 minute journey that moves seamlessly with no filter, making for a more visceral experience.
Known for making great films every decade, the 74 year old director has certainly exceeded expectations with his newest film. Having made two films prior with religious themes earlier in his career (The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun), Scorsese once again explores faith and humanity, this time in a more epic scale thanks to the work from his cinematographer, Rodrigo Prieto. Staying true to the title, Silence weighs heavily on the diegetic atmosphere and less on the score, which is featured in less than ten minutes of the film. Differentiating from his other films, Scorsese lets the camera run as the characters are fleshed out and the scene develops. Instead of the normal rapid cuts from Thelma Schoonmaker, she instead lets the viewer absorb the atmosphere and acknowledge the landscape with the sweeping wide shots. Working with no discretion, the director shows the brutality of the story and lets it unfold for itself, making for a more resonant experience. As shown with The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese is more interested in telling a genuine story instead of a diluted version that could sell tickets. Even at 74, he continues to show the longevity of his career as he takes on a tougher task every film.
With Hacksaw Ridge already being a critical hit this year, Andrew Garfield solidifies himself as one of the most prominent actors in the industry. Showing an array of emotions throughout the film, Garfield holds his own and makes for a pretty convincing Jesuit priest from Portugal. Throughout the film we see the internal torture Rodrigues (Garfield) faces as he sees fellow Christians crucified and burned to death. The consequences result in Rodrigues feeling self doubt towards himself as he begins to question the purpose of his journey. Along for the ride is Garrpe, played by Adam Driver, who also is on a hot streak of his own with The Force Awakens, Midnight Special and Paterson. Appearing more gaunt than the others, Driver’s dynamic screen presence makes for a compelling companion piece to Garfield’s subdued performance. Liam Neeson portraying the mentor Ferreira is a pleasant surprise as we get to see him show off his dramatic chops that we’ve been missing, going back to the days of the Schindler’s List. Quite possibly the standout of the film, Issey Ogata playsvthe inquisitor named Inoue. The Japanese equivalent to Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, Ogata has an enticing charm to him that makes him a likeable antagonist as he calmly breaks down the morale of Rodrigues and the other Christians. Thanks to the talented English and Japanese ensemble, they’re able to keep the film moving at a respectable pace.
Silence makes for thought provoking cinema that needs to marinate over time. Benefitting from quality production from each department, Silence will be recognized as one of the last great epics thanks to the legendary Martin Scorsese. Garfield and co help to provide perspective as we’re given an in depth look into Christianity during 17th century Japan. Padding on to his iconic filmography, Scorsese delivers a compelling, meticulous piece of art driven by his own passion for religion and film.