You may be wondering about how this film challenges you physically, but it’s not that deep of a concept, this movie is almost three hours long with no real “action” or Scorsese flare you may be used to. Scorsese is this reviewer’s all time favorite film maker without question, but it’s because of my love for the man that I have to provide you the honest truth about his latest project Silence. Considered yet another passion project by the director, Scorsese adapts a book of the same name that chronicles the trials and tribulations of two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) as they trek through a Japan that will kill and capture Christians to maintain Buddist beliefs.
One of the things you can guarantee from a Scorsese film is tremendous acting, stellar visuals, and a story wrought with thought provoking, often conflicting messages, that will at least make you leave the theater pondering the concepts littered through his stories. These are all elements to film making that should equate to a great film, right? Well technically, and Silence is a magnificent film, but when talking about the high bar Scorsese gets you will understand why this isn’t his best work. That’s probably not fair, but as the film maker behind Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver, there a standard the audience expects. With Silence, do not expect the anti-hero like story you are used to seeing.
This is a spiritual exercise that Scorsese is fond of creating. His strict Roman Catholic upbringing always finds its place somewhere in most of his films and for Scorsese himself, this was probably a film made to test himself more than audiences, but in the process will touch audiences too. The violence of the film doesn’t get a Tony Bennett soundtrack to juxtapose the horrors of the film, but instead exactly what the film’s title wants to convey. You feel the horror that Garfield and Driver face and witness in hopes to bring their faith to so many frightened Japanese people like a missionary would. Garfield’s solo performances make you feel as helpless as he does with what feels like no solution in sight. It’s an idea that lingers with you for so long that it ends up staining you heart with a guilt you probably never had before. The questioning of faith, whether you have it or not, will shake your nerves to the core with the tragic imagery Scorsese and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto present astounding cinematic language that eloquently contrasts or exaggerates the emotional depth you need for each scene.
It’s a film that, while quite long, is exceptionally well edited to make the time flow smoothly with transitions that make sense as well as fit the story that is trying to be told. If there are Oscars to be had from this film, you could say the editing is the prime choice of them all, but the acting is superb per usual, and the cinematography with Prieto’s 35mm choice is breathtaking. It’s not a film for everyone, but I think if you are okay with being mentally and spiritually challenged you will admire what question Scorsese has for you the audience. The story is interesting, heartbreaking, sometimes soul shattering, but above all else, compitent and respectful.