When two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) from Portugal learn that their mentor Father Ferreria (Liam Neeson) has gone missing in Japan during a time that Christianity was outlawed, they immediately set out to find him. Set in the 17th century, these 2 men must remain hidden as their presence is forbidden, but once they are captured, they have their faith put on the line time after time.
Based off the 1966 book of the same name, and apparently a passion project of Martin Scorsese’s for over 20 years, Silence may have a simple plot and idea, but the journey is long and tiresome as the run time is 2 hours and 41 minutes. I understand the movie need times time to develop the characters and allow us to see their faith in action, but it can be boring and a beating on the audience as well. One might say this movie will do to the audience as it does to the characters, and that might be true, but be aware that this movie is long and drawn out.
From the previews and opening scene, Silence looks as if it is going to be a mystery about finding Father Ferreria, but it really isn’t. Once the 2 priests arrive in Japan, they quickly find other Japanese Christians to teach and live with. This becomes the real story as we see how these men live and what they believe. We see how cruel the Japanese military was and what they did to people who would not denounce their faith. They try to break the spirits of anyone who believes in God/Jesus and will not let up until many have died or until the priests believe that God isn’t going to help them. It is a sad story and the message will impact many watching it as well.
As far as a movie goes, the production is amazing and the setting really makes you feel like you are in 17th century Japan. Scorsese always delivers on setting and atmosphere and Silence will immerse you in the story. The real story here is Andrew Garfield as he is who the story is really about. Adam Driver is in it some and Liam Neeson shows up in the last 30 minutes, but this movie is all about Father Rodrigues. We see how is faith is a rock and what he will endure to be strong for God. It also shows us what the Japanese did to these priests that refused to give up their faith. Andrew Garfield gives us a breakout performance in terms of his dramatic acting and he is the real feature of this movie.
At the end of the day, even with Scorsese at the helm of a wonderfully produced and acted movie, the immersive story was one I didn’t wish to be immersed into. This movie was stressful, brutal, and sad. I felt bad for both the priests AND the Japanese. The priests were tortured and people were killed over their faith in Christianity which was horrible, but I felt bad for the Japanese as these European men were coming into their country trying to disrupt their culture. The constant struggle will weight on anyone watching this and because of the length of the movie, you will be begging for the movie to end. It is a burden to experience this movie and I believe that might be the point. The men in the movie definitely beared the bigger burden, but without us experiencing everything Father Rodrigues did, we would have never felt the impact of the ending, which as I said before, isn’t exactly something I needed to experience. I have mixed feelings about Silence and I don’t know who I would recommend to go see this. Co-starring Issei Ogata, Ciaran Hinds, Tadanobu Asano, Yoshi Oida, and Yosuke Kubozuka.
6/10 Stars – Scorsese’s touch is definitely here and Andrew Garfield gives an amazing performance, but the brutal story and lengthy run time kept me from enjoying my experience.