REVIEW: Silence

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Review by Dustin Heller

Silence is the new film from acclaimed director Martin Scorsese about 17th century Jesuit priests in Japan.  The film is based upon the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō, and the screenplay was written by Scorsese and Jay Cocks.  The number of timeless films from Scorsese is too great to list here, but some of them include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The DepartedSilence stars Andrew GarfieldAdam DriverLiam NeesonTadanobu Asano and Ciarán Hinds; and is rated R for some disturbing violent content.

Christians are being tortured and killed in 17th century Japan, and two priests have gotten word that their mentor has committed apostasy and renounced his religion.  Finding this impossible to believe, they decide to travel to Japan in search of him to find out the truth.  In doing so, they have been deemed as the last two priests that will be sent to Japan because of the violence.

Upon arrival, they are introduced immediately to the suffering and trials that the Christians face.  As their situation worsens, they decide to split up in order to cover more territory.  Their faith will be tested to the limits and they will be forced to make some life-altering decisions.  Will they locate their mentor and find out the truth, and will their faith be able to withstand so much suffering?

You never really know what you’re going to get with Marty Scorsese; whether it be crazy violence, intense drama, or even outright insanity.  He really tones it down with Silence, and in the end makes something that is quite beautiful and profound but also too long and somewhat boring.  The film was billed as a passion project for Scorsese that was 25 years in the making, and it felt a little self-indulgent.  With a runtime of almost three hours, Silence would have been much better served as a two-hour film.

The acting is top-notch, with Andrew Garfield leading the way as he’s quietly becoming one of the best actors working today.  The film is truly beautiful to look at with the landscape of Taiwan serving as a gorgeous backdrop.  The storyline is interesting, but it seemed repetitive in parts and could have used a little more substance.  In the end, any new Martin Scorsese film is a must-see for all cinephiles, but I think Silence will fall flat with most audiences.

Grade:  B-

Silence opens in theaters on Friday, January 13

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