Silence on the Set Please
I read somewhere that it took director Martin Scorsese 30 years to make Silence. That shows a commitment to a passion project that most of us don’t have. Given his incredible body of work it’s no wonder that he has been trusted to scratch that itch. Anyone suggesting otherwise is “funny” and I don’t mean haha funny.
Yet again Scorsese has delivered another expertly crafted film I just wish Silence was entertaining to watch.
Ironically it’s in the moments of silence that the film excels. Silence features some truly stunning cinematography. Muted audio and lingering shots serve to enhance the hostility or tranquillity of the surrounding Japanese countryside. If, like me, you are a country bumpkin then it will tug at your heartstrings and feed that yearning to go get lost in nature somewhere.
I also found the moments where Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) were silent to be the most dramatic.
The two are priests who have travelled to Japan to spread the good word of the lord and to find Ferreira (Liam Neeson); a mentor with whom contact had been lost. Their stature in the church makes them close to deities to the downtrodden islanders so the times where they are silently and helplessly watching events unfold seem to test their faith more than any other obstacle.
Questioning faith is one of the core motifs but I never truly believed the internal struggle that the priests were having and again that’s thanks to the silence. With limited dialogue (the priests and faithful taking “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut” to heart) we are not treated to continued inner conflict and that is exactly what’s needed when addressing something as deep and contentious as faith.
You are left, therefore, with the notion that the film is intended to keep as many religions as happy as possible and for that reason I just could not get invested in the film.
That is a big problem when the film is so god damn long. At over 2 and a half hours you really need to find something to latch on to. “Aww… beautiful scenery!” only captivates for so long and certainly less than 150 minutes.
The last 10 of those minutes suddenly changes pace by providing an epilogue that spans about 30 years of events. It’s a sudden and bizarre inclusion in an otherwise long and punishing watch.
If I hadn’t watched it at the cinema I would have either switched off or drifted into playing with phone mode. As a piece of art I’m sure this has critics and theorists shouting from the rooftops – it is really well produced – but as a piece of entertainment most cinema-goers will remain silent.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Beautiful cinematography
+ Moments of silence
– A punishing watch
– Far too long
– Questioning of faith