The man behind Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Age of Innocence, Shutter Island, Raging Bull adds another unforgettable cinematic experience to his already legendary body of work. Two Catholic priests embark on a perilous expedition to locate their missing mentor in 15th Century Japan, where the religion of Christianity is outlawed and the Japanese Christians are persecuted, tortured and even killed.
Martin Scorsese’s Silence is a tenuous, tedious and grueling marathon of a religious experience. I found myself wanting to like this movie but I couldn’t like it, nor could I hate it; after witnessing Silence I was just numb to it. It is compelling and the work that went into this film is unquestionably excellent but I could not take to it in the way I could take to other works from Scorsese.
What can I truly call this movie? I suppose I could say that Silence is a passion-project from Martin Scorsese; a film that can be utilized as a metaphor as to how he possibly explored his faith and the limits, pitfalls and perils that are associated with such an exercise. One could argue that the film’s premise to find Father Ferreira, is a metaphor to one’s own search for God and when Rodrigues finally finds him, he isn’t what he expected. I could tell in both the writing and directing that this was a genuine crucible for Martin Scorsese and I’m hopeful that he found something truly profound in making this movie.
Andrew Garfield is certainly coming into his own as a great actor. Combine this performance as Rodrigues and his potentially Oscar-recognizable turn as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge, he’s certainly outgrown his Spider-Man phase and growing into a genuine top class actor; he did deliver an impeccable performance in this movie.
The supporting cast of Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Tadanobu Asano, Issei Ogata, Yôsuke Kubozuka and Shin’ya Tsukamoto were all contributing pieces to this moving marathon of religious devotion and the anguish throughout the action.
Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography exquisitely framed this movie, Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing was carried out with utmost precision, Katherine and Kim Allen Kluge’s score was appropriate, Dante Ferretti’s production and costume design was gorgeous and the set decoration of Francesca Lo Schiavo was picture perfect.
If I had to compare this film to any of Scorsese’s prior works, I think it would fall in between Gangs of New York and Shutter Island. I say Gangs of New York because I felt as though that is what the general scope and aspirations of this film was aiming for yet the result is that of Shutter Island, a film where it isn’t what you expected it to be but at the end, you contemplate and wonder what this truly was, what was it aiming to do?
Silence holds your attention, it becomes something you wrestle with, it is something you can’t forget yet it doesn’t particularly excite. I was left numb after viewing it but looking back I think the benefit was for the filmmaker more than the viewer.