Review: Silence (2016)

Silence (2016)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese | 161 minutes | drama, history | Actors: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Issei Ogata, Ciarán Hinds, Tadanobu Asano, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, Yôsuke Kubozuka, Kaoru Endô, Diego Calderón, Rafael Kading, Matthew Blake, Benoit Masse, Tetsuya Igawa, Shi Liang, Panta, Takuya Matsunaga, Miho Harita

When we ask a good bunch of movie buffs about the greatest director of all time, Mr. Martin Scorsese will be lonely at the top for the most part. He made us love the greatest scoundrels, who, accompanied by some song by The Rolling Stones, scolded their fellow men. In 2013, his return to this style was celebrated in ‘The Wolf of Wallstreet’. In ‘Silence’, however, the director completely changes course. Scorsese once again said goodbye to his conventions and made a deeply personal film about the persecution of Christians that took place in seventeenth century Japan. The film shows that Scorsese cannot let go of one of his habits: making an absurdly good film.

‘Silence’ opens with a monologue by the missing Father Ferreira (a small role by Liam Neeson) who reports on the horrific torture suffered by imprisoned Christians in Nagasaki. The information turns out to be read to our two main characters, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver). The duo learn that Ferreira, who also gave them the faith, has given up Christianity and has been living as a Japanese citizen for a few years. The two young fathers are determined to travel to dangerous Japan and retrieve their mentor, both religiously and geographically. Upon arrival, they soon come across a Christian village that welcomes the two as gods (God). However, they don’t dare to be really exuberant, because the men of Inquisitor Inoue (Issei Ogata) are always lurking.

Actor Andrew Garfield is excellent as Rodrigues, the Father whose faith is most tested. However, the one who outplays Garfield in every scene is Issei Ogata. His performance in the role of the heretic hunter of Japan demands that all eyes be on him. In the simplest description of the film, he could be considered an antagonist, but there is so much more to his game. He is not impressive in physical appearance, in fact; he needs help with even the simplest actions, but the inquisitor achieves what he wants through power in words. The conversations he has and the logic he uses are the highlights of the film. It provides a lot of quasi-philosophical discussions and Eastern metaphors that will stay with the viewer for a long time.

‘Silence’ is a film without too much physical action. Attention is then drawn all the more to the subtle manner of conflict as in the role of Ogata. The more intense parts of the film are further filled in with the helplessness that Garfield manages to portray. What does one Father in a non-Christian country want to achieve when so many have failed him? In these scenes we dive deep into the psyche of Garfield’s character and the title begins to do justice to the film. All this is further colored by Scorsese’s eye for detail. The shots of the landscapes are really beautiful and the costumes look so authentic that sometimes the viewer feels like he is watching a modern Kurosawa film.

‘Silence’ shows how versatile the director is. Love radiates from this project and it is clear that Scorsese has been working on this for years. It’s not for nothing that after decades of delivering great films, he only now found himself ready for a job like ‘Silence’. All the effort can be felt and Scorsese can once again add a modern classic to his body of work.

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