Review: “Silence” Isn’t Your Typical Scorsese Film And That’s Okay



Title: Silence
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Posted February 2, 2017 by

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Martin Scorsese has made some of the greatest films in American History: Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Gangs of New York, Casino, Goodfellas, and many more. A common theme through a lot of his films are tough guys that get things done, and language. Lots and lots of language. In “Silence”, the two main protagonists, Rodrigues and Garupe (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) , are two catholic priests who don’t get things done with their fists and bravado, but rely on their strong faith in their religion to get them through their trials and tribulations. The two go on a mission to Japan in order to find their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who went long before them yet has sent no word back in quite a while, and find that a small group of people welcome them and their teachings while the government as a whole seeks to find them and snuff them out; along with those that would follow them. In the place of guns and knives, Scorsese equips his characters with Bibles. Instead of getting revenge on those that do them any kind of wrong, Rodrigues and Garupe pray quietly for them. Their struggle is mostly an internal one and it bumps the tension up to a ten for a majority of the two and a half hour long movie.

Don’t get me wrong: “Silence” has violence in it. And not a watered down version. Heads get cut off, people get tortured by having boiling water slowly dripped on their skin, and families are burned alive. Scorsese shoots it in such a way that it doesn’t feel gratuitous, but instead historically accurate (which does not make it easier to watch). It’s just that you watch these deaths happen slowly, sometimes thinking they won’t happen at all, and the terrifying part about it is it could all be stopped if they would just denounce their faith. One small action could stop all of the pain and death yet the words aren’t muttered and the actions aren’t carried out. You have to admire the kind of faith that kept these people from saving their own lives, and at the same time not completely grasp that thought.

While watching this movie I kept thinking, “Okay. That has to be the thing that’s going to turn Rodrigues and Garupe into vengeful killers. That has to be the final straw.” Then we watch as they break down emotionally, look to the sky, and beg for some kind of miracle. I thought, “Run! What are you doing? Leave and never go back,” but they didn’t. Even while people are getting killed for hiding the two priests from those that would seek to destroy them, the pair hide just out of eye sight and watch the tortures put upon their loyal followers. Everything is done in the name of faith, every killed person becomes a martyr. That kind of faith is admirable but it also becomes detrimental and as the body count rises, the priests’ faith must get stronger or cave for good; making everything that has happened become useless. It’s a balancing act where going backwards is just as dangerous as continuing on.

“Silence” is a slower movie. That should be a given. But if you work your way through the slow pace and put yourselves in the shoes of these characters, the film becomes so much more than what’s on the surface and transforms into a thriller of sorts. Even a horror. Also, this is one of the few Scorsese films I could watch with my religious relatives and we’d both take something completely different from it. In fact, that’s what I’ll do the next time I watch it: have a person of faith by my side so I can see their reaction to everything that happens and note how it differs from my own.

While casual Scorsese fans might not like what they get with “Silence”, I loved what he was able to accomplish with this movie and think it proves he’s still one of the strongest voices in American cinema.




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