When I first saw the trailer for Silence, I thought it had Oscar bait written all over it. I mean it had Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and was directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. It looked like it had all the high dramatics and character moments that the Academy seems to love so much. So to see it not get a nomination was a bit surprising. But, it’s Martin f*cking Scorsese! How am I not gonna see it?
Silence is a far cry from his best known work. It’s a historical film about two Jesuit priests who go to Japan to find their lost mentor during a time when Japanese Christians and their priests were being hunted down and persecuted by the Japanese inquisition. Now I did some research and this movie has some historical accuracy, but it is not based in historical fact, and this is an important distinction. It’s a work of fiction based on a fictional book that drew inspiration from the real life missionaries who came to Japan during this period of persecution.
The real heart of the story lies within the role of religion, the nature of faith, and the spread of Western culture. While I can’t say it’s as in your face and agenda driven as say The Passion of the Christ, Scorsese only half-heartedly makes attempts at showing objectivity.
Quite honestly, the movie is boring beyond belief and had me actively fighting back sleep throughout it’s extremely lengthy 3 hour run time. The basic framework of them trying to find their mentor quickly loses it’s importance before ultimately coming to one of the most unsatisfying conclusions I’ve ever experienced in a movie. The real heart of the story lies within the role of religion, the nature of faith, and the spread of Western culture. While I can’t say it’s as in your face and agenda driven as say The Passion of the Christ, Scorsese only half-heartedly makes attempts at showing objectivity. Another area where it doesn’t go as far as Passion is in it’s portrayal of the violence. They do show some horrific scenes and acts, but the focus was more on the psychological trauma and crises of conscience constantly at play, more so than the actual physical harm. It was odd, I could see what was happening and knew it was bad, but it just never resonated emotionally with me.
While the story dragged on seemingly forever, one small reprieve was in the fantastic cinematography. They shot on location and there are some really stunning scenery and shots of the landscape. They also seemed to really capture what 1600’s Japan would look and feel like down to the smallest details.
By the end the movie I was left wondering just who this movie was made for, other than Scorsese?
If it wasn’t for a terrific performance from Andrew Garfield, minus the accent or lack thereof, Silence would have been completely unbearable to watch. He really conveyed a man of conviction struggling with the hard, life-shattering choices he has to make. One thing I would say though, is that they could’ve done more to show his struggle with his own faith more, he came off a little too clean and too perfect to be believable at times. Liam Neeson did a good enough job with what he was given to work with, and while Adam Driver was featured heavily in the movie’s promotion, I wasn’t really impressed with his character or his performance. Although he did fully commit to the role physically. The real standouts from the cast were Kubozuka and Tsukamoto who played Kichijiro and Mokichi respectively. By the end the movie I was left wondering just who this movie was made for, other than Scorsese?
Have you seen Silence? What’d you think about it? Did you find anything enjoyable about this movie? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the movie.
* SPOILERS *
Adam Driver’s character was terribly written and hardly used. When he died trying to save a girl, I couldn’t help but think that he went out about as feebly as I expected him to at that point. I know it was supposed to be a big emotional moment, but those need to be earned, and they didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Clearly Kichijiro was the only one who could’ve and would’ve informed on them in the first village. Why wouldn’t they see that? They can’t be that naive.
I really didn’t know what Kichijiro’s role was in the movie. He was in it the second longest amount of time but never had a character arc and was simply whisked away without any real closure.
There was no closure for anything in the movie really. The last 30 minutes of the movie is literally narrated to us by a character who gets no introduction and no explanation and then they die of old age. I know he’s trying to convey some sort of message, but who cares about a message when the overall story is this bad and unsatisfactory.
Silence was a slow, trudge of a movie that dragged on for far longer than it needed to, without giving any real sense of resolution or conclusion. Outside of good performances from Garfield and a number of the Japanese cast, the movie has very little redeemable qualities and left me wondering, just who was this made for?