Martin Scorsese strikes back with Silence, the story of two Portuguese priests that travel to Japan to search for their mentor and propagate Catholicism. Since this religion is outlawed in the land of the rising sun during the seventeenth century, they face lots of problems, from violence to persecution. Scorsese, who has been planning this film for 25 years, rarely delivers a below-great movie, his filmography is nearly immaculate. No doubt why I couldn’t wait to get to watch Silence! Has it lived up to the expectations? Let’s find out.
Andrew Garfield. Oh my God! His performance is splendid, without a doubt the best he’s given in his career. It’s intense, emotional and intimate, and that’s remarkable taking into account how complex his character is, especially towards the end of the film. It could be career-defining for him. The rest of the cast does a good job too, with highlights from Liam Neeson (a performance that proves he’s not an actor for action flicks only) and Adam Driver.
While the trailers and synopses suggest Garfield and Adam share importance throughout the movie, Silence focuses on the story of the former. His character evolves greatly during the runtime, as the situations he finds himself in make him reconsider his beliefs even if they are the centre of his life. It is extremely moving to see how this character is challenged spiritually, and takes the “faith through suffering” concept to excruciating limits.
Silence is a masterfully directed movie. Scorsese knows exactly how to realise his films so that his vision remains unchanged when taken to the big screen. Each shot is meticulously planned to perfection, achieving a story-telling through its visuals unlike any other in recent years. The director once again collaborates with Rodrigo Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street) for the cinematography, which captures the uncertainty of Japanese landscapes with staggering beauty, from its mistful forests to dangerous villages. Every scene looks gorgeous, and it’s evident that no detail has been left unconsidered, from composition to intensity of colours.
As stated earlier, the evolution of the characters play a crucial role in this movie. However, the chain of events that accompanies that evolution is rather weak. Don’t get me wrong, the overall story is very interesting, indeed. It is how the film lays down the events what doesn’t feel right. Many of those events, simply put, drag.
Scorsese always tends to make his movies long, but usually they have enough substance to them to keep the audience enjoying every bit. This time around, the 2 hours and 41 minutes feel unnecessary, and it has way too many dull, insignificant moments. The lack of proper pacing is more than obvious. It is, unfortunately, a boring film that may feel like an endurance test to more casual movie-goers. In fact, a couple of people left from the screening when I watched the movie, something I had never seen happen before!
It’s hard to recommend Silence, because, unlike most films released nowadays, it lacks an entertainment value. Instead, it takes a more experimental route that may please some and upset others. The quality of the craftsmanship is impeccable, for sure, but after movies like The Wolf of Wolf Street and The Departed (one of my favourite films of all time), it seems that’s not enough. 6/10