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Film Review – Silence (2016)

Martin Scorsese once exclaimed that he had wanted to make Silence for close to twenty years, but felt that he was not a good enough director to pull it off at the time.  Fast forward years later and here we are, Scorsese’s passion project has finally come to the big screen.  The following review for this 1600’s epic will be spoiler free.  Make sure to comment at the bottom of the page with your own thoughts.

Synopsis

Silence, as mentioned before, is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson.  We follow the journey of two Jesuit priests, Father Rodrigues and Father Francisco Garrpe (Garfield, Driver) as they journey to Japan in search of their mentor Father Ferreira (Neeson) in a time where the presence of Christianity was outlawed.  Throughout their travels, the priests’ faith is tested in ways they never imagined as they handle persecution from Japanese inquisitors.

Image result for silence movie 2016

image via Vox

Background

It’s more than fair to say that Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors working today.  Better yet, he might be the best.  If you consider yourself to be a movie buff, every one of Scorsese’s works should be a must see.  He continues to challenge himself as a director, tackling many different genres of film with movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo, and Shutter Island in the last few years alone.  Scorsese is a true student of his craft.  It appears once again that he’s challenging himself again with Silence.

However, while the coming attractions for Silence have looked pretty harrowing and epic in scope, Silence has been the center of many issues for the distribution company, Paramount Pictures.  I have touched on these issues in the past (you can read my thoughts on the late release of the trailer for Silence here), but it is still perplexing to say the least that there hasn’t been a larger marketing push for this movie.

Silence was originally suppose to release in 2015, but due to countless issues on set, including the death of a crew member, the film was delayed.  There was also reportedly a major battle between Scorsese and the executives of Paramount over the run time of the movie with there reportedly being a four hour cut of the movie at one point in time.  The disagreement became so heated that Scorsese threatened to leave the project at one point in time.

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image via The New York Times

What I Liked

While every performance in the movie is spot on, I feel it most necessary to praise the works of both Andrew Garfield and Issei Ogata.  Just months after blowing us all away with his performance of famed American hero Desmond Doss in Mel Gibson’s war epic Hacksaw Ridge, Garfield is at it again with another award-worthy performance in Silence.  He delivers a very layered performance.  He expresses the necessary spiritual depth of a very devout priest while emoting the right amount of vulnerability.

The main Japanese adversary, played by Issei Ogata, gives an award worthy performance in a supporting role and may possibly be one of the best villains in cinema in 2016.  Ogata isn’t overly evil, he even has some charm to his character, but he is well fleshed out as a character and explains his point of view which helps you to even understand where he is coming from.  He reminds me a little of Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds with the mannerisms he has.

Image result for silence movie 2016 issey ogata

image via The Film Stage

What I Liked…Continued

This film is filled with a lot of great things.  However, its greatest strength is its exploration of very deep themes that are very resonant.  The idea of silence as part of one’s faith plays out to perfection through the careful direction of Martin Scorsese (who should also get an award nomination).  Not only does the film have quite possibly the most powerful message of any movie of 2016, but it takes a controversial topic and does not ever become preachy or tell the audience what to believe.

There is much to appreciate from a film that allows you to understand the viewpoint of each side of the conflict.  Not only is Silence a lesson of the power of belief, but it is a powerful exploration into human nature.  This may be Scorsese’s most mature film to date.

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image via Awards Daily

What I Didn’t Like

However, this may be a nitpick, but I found a slight editing issue with the movie.  You can tell where it was shortened from its reported four hour run time.  The film uses a device that summarizes events later in Silence that caused the film to “tell” rather than “show” the events of the movie.  That being said, I thought the device was used as tastefully as possible by Scorsese to create a satisfying ending to this epic movie.

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image via Serving Cinema

Conclusion

In the end, Silence is a mature, powerful movie that will reward those who stick through it.  It gets an A.  This film may not be for everyone, and it is certainly not the most rewatchable film of the year, but I would encourage you to see this movie as it’ll certainly challenge you mentally.

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Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to like, share, and subscribe.

Have you seen Silence?  Let me know what you think by commenting below.

What should I discuss next?  Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!

 

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Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

15 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with your review, this film is not for everyone and that’s the main challenge: sit through a movie that won’t try to entertain you or shock you at all costs like many today. When I watched it I suddenly thought of 1986 “Mission”, but it turned out to be more profound to me. Remarkable performances and, of course, the cinematography was stunning! ( thanks to Japan itself sometimes ). The message of the movies speaks for itself.

  2. ulyxes says:

    I love this movie – but not his best; I think I’ll read the book…

  3. Thanks for a thorough and thoughtful review. This is both a complex film and at the same time very simple: arrogant religious colonialism is responsible for untold misery through the ages. The 2 hours and 40 minutes are well spent. I’m not sure about the casting of Andrew Garfield: he looked too fresh throughout his ordeal and I’m ambivalent about whether he was the best choice for this role. But the story is far bigger than its stars, its length or even the brilliant cinematography.

    • MovieBabble says:

      I’d disagree with your thoughts on Andrew Garfield, the man lost 40 lbs for his role in the movie and poured everything into the role. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role!

  4. pmayhew53 says:

    Reblogged this on pmayhew53 and commented:
    Silence is a masterpiece! I saw it repeatedly and learned and grew from each viewing. Andrew Garfield is incredible in Silence! Far greater acting than in Hacksaw Ridge. Silence is the movie he should have been nominated for Best Actor in! This movie will be a classic forever! Thank you for your vision to make this Martin Scorsese. The world is too shallow to appreciate your masterwork! I personally cannot thank you and the cast and crew enough! Brilliant!

  5. flimwatcher says:

    It’s very faithful to the novel (which is also excellent) and misses practically nothing out so he’d have had to really drag it out for another hour. Scorsese is absolutely one of my favourites, he’s variety is fantastic!

  1. January 9, 2017

    […] *To view my review of Silence, please click here. […]

  2. April 23, 2017

    […] signs of depleting any time soon, as his last film, Silence (of which you can read my full review here) was met with very, very high praise as it showed his deeper, mature […]

  3. July 27, 2017

    […] including Citizen Kane (which was also his first work as a composer).  He even worked on a lot of Scorsese films, most notably Taxi […]

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