Release date: January 13, 2017
I should learn to expect Martin Scorsese films to be long, but boy was this long.
It clocked in a 2 hours and 41 minutes, which isn’t quite an extended cut of Lord of the Rings, but man it felt like an eternity.
The problem, I find, with Scorsese is he likes a good drawn out plot line with multiple arcs. I’ve seen 5 of his films. Of those I found 1 to be of a reasonable length. The others all dragged on and on with Silence being one of those. (I’m not counting Taxi Driver in that group because I only saw part of it. I liked what I saw probably because it was the last hour and in my head I feel like I saw most of the movie, but probably not.)
This film is set in the 1600’s and is about two Catholic priests, Rodrigues and Garupe (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver respectively), who go to Japan to look for their former mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) and evangelize to the Japanese people. At that point in history Japan was a very dangerous place for Christians, but they go anyways.
The film focuses mainly on Rodrigue’s faith, him holding onto it and *SPOILER ALERT* eventually trampling on it in the end. It’s not an action heavy movie at all, which makes it feel longer. Focusing on character development is fine in a movie and very important, but it needs to not feel repetitive. A lot of the action happens in conversations between Rodrigues and different members of the Japanese government in their attempts to break him down. Garfield’s acting is phenomenal and you really get a sense of the torment he must be feeling internally. Christians are being tormented and killed around him because of their faith and in a way because of the Jesuit priests involvement in Japan.
This movie also suffers due to the language barrier. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that they used Asian actors who spoke historically accurate broken english and Japanese, but it made the storyline hard to comprehend. Case in point, the couple in the theater behind me whispering to each other about what was going on for the whole film. “‘Scuse me Mr. Scorsese, how bought some more captions?”
What was most frustrating to me though is investing 2.5 hours of my life in this movie and exactly what I don’t want to happen does. This is common problem for me and other Scorsese movies (i.e. The Departed, Gangs of New York). *SPOILER ALERT* During most of the movie we watch as Japan tries to break Rodrigues and make him step on his faith, which he refuses. He is strong in prayer even though he feels that God is being silent to him he hold strong in his faith. Yet, in the final act of the movie he does trample on the image of Christ to end the suffering of those around him, ironically egged on by his former mentor Ferreira, and he lives the rest of his life under the watchful eye of the Japanese government and appears to have renounced his faith entirely. Not so feel good.
But the title Silence is fitting. Silence describes his relationship with God, his relationship with Japan and how he lives the remainder of his life after his apostasy.
The most annoying character in this movie is the Inquisitor. There are a few moments where it seemed like the filmmakers were going for a laugh, but it just didn’t feel right to do so. Runner up for most annoying is Kichijiro. I think he is meant to be the opposite of Rodrigues. *SPOILER ALERT* Threats on his life don’t force Rodrigues to apostate, but Kichijiro is very self-preserving. Yet in the end, Kichijiro remains faithful… flawed, but faithful.
Overall, the cinematography is beautiful (that shot on the steps in the beginning was cool, but maybe a little too Battleship Potemkin for my taste). The acting is great, especially Andrew Garfield and all the crying. Just cut out an hour and it wouldn’t be so bad.
Gosh, I don’t know here. I predict a couple nominations, but I don’t anticipate any wins. It will probably pick up a nom for Best Picture. I think Andrew Garfield could see a nod for Best Actor and I’m sure Scorsese will get a nod for Best Directing mostly because it’s Martin.