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Silence

Silence

Released 1 January 2017
Director Martin Scorsese
Starring





Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Tadanobu Asano, Nana Komatsu, Michié, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Ryo Kase, Yasushi Takada
Writer(s) Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese
Producer(s)



Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Barbara De Fina, Randall Emmett, Gaston Pavlovich, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Origin United States, Taiwan, Mexico
Running Time 160 minutes
Genre Drama, history
Rating 12A
45

The Passion of St. Marty.

The best moments of Martin Scorsese’s film career are not notable for their reverential silence. Back in his heyday, his films fizzled with rough-hewn vitality. Even the diminishing returns that have marked the last decade or so of his output have had moments that brought us back to those mean streets. His new film Silence, based on Shusako Endo’s 1966 novel, is a far cry (or whisper) away from his best work. Despite everyone’s best effort, Silence feels like a passion project too far - it is strangely inert, unpleasantly ponderous and overstays its welcome by a good forty minutes.

It is 1639 - Catholic missionaries and their converts in Japan are being hunted down by the authorities. Despite the brutal torture tactics being employed to snuff out the religion, devout young missionaries Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) travel to the country to spread the word of god and search for their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who according to rumour, has turned his back on his previous life to live as a Japanese.

There are many problems with this film but the cinematography is not one of them. Rodrigo Prieto has created a truly beautiful film, where mists and waves swirl to create truly other-worldly vistas. The use of tableaux during the sequences of torture call to mind the Stations of the Cross - stark and striking. The rest of the film however feels hamstrung by Scorsese’s po-faced devotion to the subject matter. Emotions feel shallow, strange moments of comedy fall flat and the acting is decidedly uneven. The attempt at Portuguese accents from the leads are distracting and Adam Driver is sorely underused. Instead, Scorsese follows Garfield’s Father Rodrigues, who despite giving it his best, is a less than dynamic character. The Japanese cast fare better (particularly Tadanobu Asano and Yosuke Kubozuka) but their more exuberant performances sit uneasily against the lumbering tone of the film as a whole.

Silence is a strange film, one that is made with passion that never translates to the screen. Despite the caliber of all the talented artists involved, there is something of the Emperor’s New Clothes about its funereal pace and spiritual quagmire.

- Linda O’Brien