Monday, January 16, 2017

Silence - Movie Review

Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata, Yosuke Kobuzuka, Yoshi Oida, Shin'ya Tsukamoto and Nana Komatsu.
Written by Jay Cocks & Martin Scorsese.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.


Silence is adapted from a 1966 novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo. Martin Scorsese has been trying to get this film made for over two decades. It's clear he respects his source material. It feels like he respected it too much. There's a sprawling quality to it where the movie suffers from repetitive narrative beats.

The first half is the strongest. In 1640, two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) request to go to Japan, where their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) is rumored to have left the faith. As Christianity is illegal in Japan, the priests must be hid by secret members. The Japanese Christians are grateful to finally have priests among them. The last few they had were killed or apostasized.

The second half is mostly filled with people getting tortured and/or killed, Garfield's Father Rodrigues speaking with the torturers, angst, rain, cruelty, and unanswered prayers.

I almost had this Apocalypse Now anticipation for when Ferreira might show up, but he shows up late, and it's pretty anti-climactic. In fact, I didn't like his character. And while I like Garfield - he was excellent in Hacksaw Ridge - he isn't quite up to the task of what he's supposed to be here.

There are many questions of faith wrestled with here. Does it really mean anything if you say you renounce God when you still believe in your heart? The movie does not make cartoon villains of the Japanese torturers either. My mind kept going back to how heretics were getting tortured and killed back home.

The last ten minutes felt like a lengthy denouement a novel would have, but the same beats could have been done in two minutes.

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