What a way to start 2017!
Silence is the latest film from master filmmaker Martin Scorsese. It follows two Jesuit priests as they travel to Japan in the 1600’s to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism in a time when Christianity is outlawed.
This film is an epic, a sprawling epic of cinematic proportions. It’s based on a novel that I have yet to read, but you could tell that this kind of a story came from a book. The way it’s structured, the way it follows its characters on insightful and intriguing tangents feels novelistic. It’s a long film but there was never one point that I felt like it was lingering, the story that was being told needed to be told in its entirety, every detail examined to allow the experience to take hold of you. It was never slow, it was fairly well paced and never meandered around in setting.
This film is a passion project for Martin Scorsese, a project that has taken decades to get off the ground. That must be quite a burden on the actors when cast in their roles, the three main ones being Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson, thankfully three of the best actors working right now. People will mention their accents, which do waver at times, Neeson not really going for one at all, but it was never something that bothered me. Their accents were just a small part of their overall performances, performances that truly were some of the best I’ve seen on screen in a long while. The burden of this film falls mainly on to the shoulders of Andrew Garfield who is the main protagonist. He gives it his all, his performance is very internal, it’s written on his face and as an audience you are constantly trying to get a read on him, what is he thinking, is his faith at breaking point? We are getting to that time of year again so I’m just going to say it; give this man an Oscar. Apart from the big three, the rest of cast is mainly made up of Japanese actors, something which is very refreshing to see in a western made film. The actor who stood out to me was Tadanobu Asano who played an interpreter, a character who you are constantly trying to figure out.
Faith based films are not always going to play well with large audiences and I imagine a large proportion are going to be turned off by the subject matter of this one however, I urge you to check this one out. I am not a religious person but faith has always been a topic of discussion that has interested me. Depending on your faith this film will provoke different responses, there will be times when people will get annoyed at certain characters’ ignorance, but if you can respect the way they think then you will be immersed in their world of thinking and understand it even if you don’t believe it yourself.
Although the story may be from a novel, Scorsese still makes the most out of the medium of film. He uses the camera like a pen and allows it to tell the story in a very visual way, moving it around and creating a reaction that feels very old-school, unfortunately you don’t get so many films like this anymore. There are times when it felt a little rough around the edges but it made me love the filmmaking even more, it felt gritty and worked for but astonishingly beautiful at the same time, unaccompanied by a score but instead diegetic sound there are times when you notice the filmmaking but never in a way that takes you out of the film, I was constantly immersed throughout.
This film is pure cinema and although it won’t be for everyone (a few people left in my screening), I really hope that everyone will give it a go. In a world of repetitive and predictable blockbusters, it’s nice to go into an original story, one that I didn’t know anything about and one that I was able to come out of and feel richer for seeing it. In terms of Scorsese’s work, this is up there as one of his best films, we are very lucky to be graced yet again with a Scorsese masterpiece. I am giving Silence a rating of 5/5.
Have you seen Scorsese's latest yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!