After 26 years in production, Scorsese’s passion project has finally hit the cinemas and it is a beautiful and powerful meditation on faith.
The film follows two priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who choose to travel across to Christian-persecuting-Japan in search of their mentor (Liam Neeson). They subsequently are welcomed by small villages who help to hide them in order for them to lead their church in secret, yet are separated and try to flee the authority coming after them.
The narrative revolves around a questioning of faith and a testing of how strongly someone can believe and be loyal to their religion when facing death and torture. It doesn’t shy away from depicting the Japanese’s horrific methods of persecution (even using long, unbroken shots to emphasise their effect), with very unsettling and often disturbing scenes of torture being depicted, however, the real focus of the film is on the torture within Garfield’s priest’s mind.
The film really takes the form of an epic. It spans a long period of time, fully immersing you in the struggles of the characters on screen, with the fairly long running time allowing the film to draw out its toughest moments. The film also focuses solely on the journey of Garfield’s character (evolving from a two-person lead at the beginning), fully involving you in his situation, without cutting away to any subplots. The result is incredibly immersive, and thus a more impactful and enlightening experience.
All of the elements of the film pull together perfectly. The acting is very strong, with Garfield turning in one of the best performances of his career, with Driver and Neeson supporting brilliantly. The film is beautifully captured with gorgeous and impactful cinematography, used to fully effect with long shots, especially during the scenes of torture.
There almost feels as though there is one small thing missing that prevents this from becoming one of the all time greats. However, Silence is an epic in its own right, and an incredibly accomplished piece. It carries an incredible power, one which causes the film’s themes to stay with you after it has finished.