The plot is pretty simple: Based on the novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo, it is the seventeenth century and two jesuit priests in Portugal- Father Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) -learn from Father Valignano (Ciaran Hinds) that their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) has apostatized from the religion of Christianity, while trying to promote the religion to the people in small villages of Japan. The two priests set out on a mission, to find their teacher, while also attempting to continue preaching the good word. What they find on their journey is not just pushback, but violent torture, from those who view the religion as a poison, and will struggle internally with their own beliefs. For these two men- especially Rodriguez, they will discover an ultimate test of faith, trying to find a reasoning behind the message of God, and push back against the possible reality that God might not exist at all.
Scorsese is undoubtedly an artist of his craft, where each scene carries value. He co-wrote the script with Jay Cocks, filming in gorgeous locations with impeccable lighting, and lush cinematography from Rodrigo Prieto. There will be many interpretations from critics and audiences that endure exactly what it is Scorsese is saying in Silence. We are only three years removed from the controversial outlook of greed in The Wolf of Wall Street. Now here, I couldn't stop gathering many thoughts throughout Silence. Scorsese lets scenes linger a bit longer, where the absence of sound draws notice to sounds of nature or the screams of those being tortured. It is a long two hours and forty-one minutes experience, but not without reason. Like many of Scorsese's other films such as The Last Temptation of of Christ or Kundun, the objective and theme is to test the characters moral strength in their religious beliefs.
Although the persecution that Rodriguez and believing Japanese people experience, at the commands of official Inoue Masashige (an often scene stealing- Issei Ogata), is gruesome, it does not mean that Silence is strictly a film for Christians to point out their righteous sacrifices. In fact, it objectively gives Inoue his moments to express that the Christian efforts to “plant their religion in a swamp” is a belief that never would take hold in a country rich with traditions in the Buddhist faith. Scorsese has constantly wrestled with his mortality, which he continues here, yet never have I watched a film that displays believers committing acts, such as stepping on an image of Christ, that willingly challenges the concepts of theology. Are these artifacts or symbols more important than the flesh and blood lives of others? If you never see the works of God, Christ, or Buddha does that mean they don't exist? Is the silence a sign? Or should we act for ourselves?
The most complex and important character that I found in Silence is a troubled man- Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka). He is a lost drunk, who guides Garrpe and Rodriguez into the Japan with hopes to find his way back home. What he represents is the entire concept of catholic faith, where one can commit sin after sin, but if they were to confess and atone for their disgraces, they will be welcomed back into Gods arms. The redundancy of his actions result in lives lost, Rodriguez being placed in a prison, and his pride shattered, yet time and again he is given forgiveness from those he betrays. He reaches a point where stepping on the face of Jesus is as routine as the sun rising each day. By the films end, I believed Kichijiro had it figured out. He had proved that his faith was strong because he knew the religion would never leave him, no matter how awful he was, he always looked for the forgiveness from his God.
Silence is an amazing film. The complaints about Andrew Garfield's often shifting accent should be minimal and the length will test the patience of audience goers, for sure. I don't really care though, I actually found Garfield to be consistent in his struggle and more than prepared for a hard performance task. I believe Martin Scorsese has made a film that I must bow down to at the cinematic alter. He is a craftsmen, a scholar of the art, and a genius. Here we are in 2016, a time where we lose faith in humanity on a daily basis, and the 74 year old Scorsese is making a piece of art like this. Let me just say, it gives me something to believe in.
Written by: Leo Brady
STARRING: ANDREW GARFIELD; ADAM DRIVER; LIAM NEESON; CIARAN HINDS
DIRECTED BY: MARTIN SCORSESE
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
Silence is an endurance test for the mind and the heart. It is also a challenge to ones faith and religious beliefs, to any audience member, as much for the characters of the film, no matter what you practice. I believe, in many ways, that I am the perfect judge for a film like Silence. I was raised a catholic, and as it turned out, more by circumstance than direct choice, I attended catholic schools my entire life of education. After I finished college, I experienced many conflicting life issues that pushed me over the edge to losing my religion, where I found solace in an agnostic and atheist viewpoint. In Silence, the newest from auteur and directing legend Martin Scorsese, it has been decades in the making, and it is nothing short of a masterpiece.