While Scorsese has produced his fair share of bangers over the years, Silence falls short.
Martin Scorsese knows how to make a movie, there’s no doubting that.
He’s given us some absolute rippers like Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991) and my personal favourite, Taxi Driver (1976). His name is as synonymous with film as the word hat is synonymous with head-coverings, and every time he makes a new movie, I wait with baited breath.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Scorsese’s films is their range of topics.
He loves to switch it up from psychological thrillers, to gangster movies, to a couple more gangster movies, and a few gangster movies here and there to top it all off. But the legend’s latest film takes a slightly different direction.
Silence, or Silencio, as they say in Spanish, follows the journey of two Portuguese missionaries, Fr. Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) and Fr. Garrpe (Adam Driver) who travel to Japan to find their long-lost padre.
It’s the 1600s, and Japan aren’t too happy with their Christian population, so they decide to slaughter them all. Seems pretty intense? Well it was.
After arriving in Japan, our two missionaries practice and preach under the cover of darkness, going from town to town, narrowly escaping persecution at every turn.
Even with all of this excitement, I can’t say I really loved the film. There were elements about the movie that were great, and a few standout scenes here and there. But the whole thing seemed a little lacklustre, like it didn’t really have a direction.
The struggle between Japan’s dominant Buddhist theology and the oppression of the Christian faith ended up turning into one big debate about who was right. There was scene after scene, jam-packed with dialogue about whether this God was real or this one, yet no one seemed to be making any progress. Andrew Garfield ended up crying a lot about Jesus, but through all of his tears, nothing ever got done.
The mission of the missionaries (sick wordplay) was to find their Padre (played by Liam Neeson) who had been rumoured to have renounced his faith after sufficient torture, and who had become a Buddhist priest. But five minutes after landing in Japan, all they did was hide in villages, and made almost no attempt to find the bossman the entire movie.
It’s kind of like when you go upstairs to grab your toothbrush, end up putting a pair of shoes on, come downstairs and remember you forgot your toothbrush, only the toothbrush is a human, and the stairs are religious oppression.
On top of the debates, the dialogue was sprinkled with an incredible amount of awkward comic relief.
Silence is a pretty serious movie about a pretty serious topic, but for some reason jokes kept popping up. Sure they got a few cackles from the lovely couple sitting behind me, but they were completely unnecessary and made me cringe.Japanese villagers look on as their fellow Christians are tortured.
Silence wasn’t all bad. For one, it looked fucking incredible.
There were some cool editing tricks in their as well which kept you on your toes, so I guess I should be grateful that while I was questioning the integrity of the movie, I at least had something pretty to look at.
The film was partial to some torture sequences too. At the very start of the film we were treated to Christian priests being doused in boiling hot water, which scared the shit out of me, alongside a fine selection of other cruel bits and bobs. These scenes were shot particularly vividly and definitely left a strong impression on the audience.
But unfortunately, torture doesn’t make a good film great, so good is where Silence will stay. It’s worth a watch, but don’t expect too much, unless you expect it will be average, in which case you’re expecting exactly the right amount.