Based on the novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō, Silence tells the tale of two Catholic priests whose faith is tested when they journey to Japan in pursuit of their friend and mentor Father Ferreria (Liam Neeson). Silence tells a story set in the brutal and turbulent times of religious persecution in Japan during the 17th century. Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) enter Japan at a time of religious intolerance, when the Catholic faith was banned and their presence forbidden.
Martin Scorsese is one of those classic veteran directors who has remained consistent throughout his career. I have never watched a bad Scorsese picture and Silence continues this unbroken tradition. With this religious narrative, he continues to be as varied and impressive as always. This guy has no limits and he’s one of those directors that churns out quality not quantity; something that can’t be said for many directors in post-2010 Hollywood.
The whole cast is excellent. Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls) isn’t in it much, but the quietness of his performance is simply outstanding. His interaction with Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) is chilling. It gives the term “awkward encounter” a whole new menaing and its truthfulness adds to the scene’s eerie aura. Andrew Garfield playing this messianoic characture doesn’t go unnoticed. Despite modern interpretations of Jesus being models of Cesare Borgia, Garfield is symbolic of this universal image. He has really come into his own as an actor, leaving his webslinging ventures behind him.
By 1640, Garrpe (Driver) and Rodrigues (Garfield) are the last two priests to see the aftermath of two decades of Jesuit execution in Japan. They go to different villages, where small groups of Christians still practice their faith incognito. They stay hidden during the day and hold their meetings in the night, constantly in fear of being ousted by the Inquisitor (Issei Ogata), an old amusing man with the task of finding closet Christians and executing them, purging Japan of the perceived western threat.
Silence deeply explores our priests’ concepts of ethics and morality, pushing their beliefs to the very limit. There are times of ideological epiphanies in contrast to religious principles (European or Japanese), especially with Kichijiro (Yôsuke Kubozuka), who comes to embody many of the misunderstood teachings to the formerly Buddhist people of Japan. The duo start to question their faith, as Garrpe gets impatient and his partner questions the existence of God whilst their constituents are killed in front of them.
In pursuit of their mentor and spiritual enlightenment, there are striking sequences of profound conviction, made more vivid by the plight of the locals who refuse to renounce their beliefs. Regardless of the brutality, ace acting and moral dilemmas, it’s makes for stellar entertainment. It’s based on history and delivers a thought-provoking lecture that makes for some food for thought, including the fragility of the human soul and how we will do anything for our own self-preservation. Silence thinks for the audience, so the audience doesn’t have to. In this sense, I’d have liked the audience to be forced to churn those mental cogs rather than be told the answers.
Overall, Silence is an excellent film. It’s not a Scorsese Great but a bloody good film nonetheless. Even in 2017, I still say that Scorsese hasn’t done a better film since Goodfellas. Silence is certainly worth the ticket price, made worthwhile by the: stunning performances, picturesque landscapes, commendable cinematography and a good many other things.