Being twenty five years in the making, ‘Silence’ has been somewhat of a passion project for director Martin Scorsese. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name from 1966 penned by Japanese writer Shūsaku Endō. The story follows two Jesuit priests who embark on a journey to and through Japan in order to find their mentor who has gone missing, all whilst fulfilling their God given mission of preaching the gospel.
I was slightly dubious before seeing this film, Scorsese is a director who for me has a massive range in quality in his filmography. His most recent films have done little else than bore me and the extortionate running times do little to alleviate this. Only being twenty minutes shy of the three hour mark I knew that ‘Silence’ had the potential to do the same, thankfully though I can confirm that the film can join the ranks of Scorsese’s best film-making. The narrative here is full of interesting themes that because of the running time can be properly explored. Religion, faith, suffering and temptation are only some of the themes looked at in the film. The way in which these are part of the story allows the audience room to think about these things as well, to debate character decisions and to ponder what they think about these issues clearly present in 17th Century Japan but also so prevalent for today’s world. Thanks to this level of engagement offered I found the long running time to be no issue at all. The only time the narrative ran into any kind of problem was near the end. I found the closing scenes to the film to be a little rushed and as a result slightly confusing, there are a couple of moments which were a little jarring too which definitely threw me off guard and took me out of the film. Hopefully these issues will resolve themselves with rewatches though.
Martin Scorsese is notorious for getting the most out of his casts and his films feature some truly wonderful performances, ‘Silence’ is no different. Liam Neeson stars in a small supporting role and after seeing him in ‘A Monster Calls’ so recently too it’s brilliant to see him starring in more dramatic roles once more. His performance here shows that he clearly still has the talent for these kinds of roles so I’m glad film-makers of Scorsese’s caliber are giving him a platform. However, it’s the two younger performers, Adam Driver & Andrew Garfield, who steal the show. Driver continues to impress with his choice of roles and whilst definitely in a supporting role to that of Garfield’s he matches his ability committing to this role in a powerful way. It is the past Spider-Man, Garfield who has the most to do though and he takes this challenge in his stride, giving the best performance I have ever seen from the thirty three year old. He performs in a way that makes the themes of the narrative so much more convicting for the audiences and becomes the essential focal point for the story. The cast of Japanese actors are all very good as well however at times I did find it hard to understand their dialogue, this left me wondering if the picture should just have been subtitled. Although if this had been the case we wouldn’t have received the wonderful performances from Garfield, Driver and Neeson.
Failing even to have mentioned the breath taking cinematography yet in this review I think it’s safe to say that I may be a little bit in love with this movie. Whilst there were a few issues with the ending and not all the dialogue is clear these flaws can easily be excused. The narrative is so enthralling, it easily warrants the running time present and will be the subject of much analysis for years to come. This narrative couldn’t have been as effective without the ridiculously talented cast though, Andrew Garfield especially stands out in a role that will stay with him for the rest of his career. Twenty five years later and Scorsese can finally say that his passion project is now complete and I wholly believe it was worth every bit of work that went into it.
Rating – 9/10
Question: What is your favourite Martin Scorsese film?
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