Beautiful. Brutal. Boring. This is Martin Scorsese’s Silence.
For over twenty-five years, Director Martin Scorsese has been trying to get an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel Silence to the big screen. He has finally accomplished his goal and has brought a beautifully shot, brutally violent film to audiences, but it is also very long and feels every minute of its 160 minutes.
The film follows Jesuit priests played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as they search 17th century Japan for Liam Neeson, their mentor who has reportedly apostatized. Along the way, their faith is tested by both the ruling class in Japan that wants all traces of Christianity wiped out and by their guide, Kichijiro (Yôsuke Kubozuka), a Japanese Christian who has renounced his faith in the past in order to save his life. Kichijiro tests their faith in the fact that he constantly apostatizes and then asks for forgiveness. It almost became laughable if the priests’ situation hadn’t been so miserable.
The performances, especially that of Garfield, are fantastic, but the slow methodical pace of the film left me feeling bored. Also, the repetitive nature of the scenes that test the priests’ faith simply became overwrought. I think this film will probably play better to those who follow the faith, but for those who are less religious, it may feel like a real slog. It is definitely an interesting film, I just didn’t find it very entertaining.
So, Silence is an expertly made film in every aspect, but it just wasn’t for me. If the running time had been shortened to about two hours, it might have gone over better, but the film really just wore me down. Maybe catch it on cable, but know that if you see it in theaters, you’re in for a long ordeal.