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Review: Silence

Andrew Garfield and Shinya Tsukamoto star in Paramount Pictures' SILENCE

How much do you like Martin Scorsese? How much do you want to simply just watch a movie that’s well done? The way you answer those questions may determine just how much you might like or dislike Silence. If you’re like me, you will probably want to skip this one or at least fast forward through a significant chunk of it.

This Martin Scorsese picture is based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel of the same name. Set in Nagasaki, Japan, Silence follows Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver), a pair of Portuguese Catholic Priests who travel abroad to this foreign land. Their reason for their journey is to locate Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), their mentor who is rumored to have renounced his faith after being held captive. While going to search for him, what they find are a series of true tests that will give them the opportunity to question everything that they stand for.

Right at the start, I’ll say that Silence is way too slow for most people to genuinely like it. For a long period of time, everything is drawn out and moves at the painfully slow pace that’s all too prominent in “important” movies. What makes the pacing even more difficult to deal with is that there’s almost no music and even less actual camera work. This makes the film seem even slower than it actually is. For the more “high brow” cinephile or the lover of all things Scorsese, this may be fine, but not so much for everyone else.

Eliminating 40 minutes legitimately turns Silence into an overall solid movie. I can’t tell you not to give it a chance in theaters, but I also wouldn’t try to stop you for the simple reason that you might not mind the excruciatingly slow pace that may be able to assist some people in overcoming their seemingly incurable cases of insomnia. The crazy part about that is that I’m only slightly kidding as I know that there were a few people who very nearly fell asleep while watching it.

Although it bores at times, the more I thought about Silence, the more I was able to truly appreciate the messages that it was trying to convey. It’s a risky film that only someone like Martin Scorsese would able to get away with making in this day and age. Due to his status in Hollywood and the film world in general, he’s one of those directors that people will give a pass to when it comes to this type of stuff. So allowing him to make something like this isn’t much of a gamble for studios.

You need patience in order to endure Silence. There’s some good stuff going on here, but the lack of energy mixed in with all of its filmmaking issues really does some damage to what could have been a decent movie about faith, the ways it’s attacked, how we may find it and the way people attempt to lean on it during very difficult times. Along with the overlying message that I will not talk about, all of that makes this picture a multilayered event that had a great deal of potential. It just sucks that the approach taken by Scorsese doesn’t allow for it to be more than an empty attempt at winning a couple of trophies.

Instead of going to see it in theaters, you’re probably better off renting it eventually and trying to skip through all of the slow and unnecessary scenes. There are a lot of those, so you might actually find yourself having a difficult time doing that. If you want to see it and can’t wait that long, bring yourself a pillow and head to your local cinema. Doing that would also make it easier to sit through this 161 minute movie that stretches far longer than it should have.

Rating: R

Director: Martin Scorsese

Andrew Garfield
Adam Driver
Tadanobu Asano
Ciaran Hinds
Liam Neeson

Film Length: 161 minutes

Release Dates:
December 23, 2016 (Limited)
January 6, 2017 (Wide)

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

  • Score - 3/10
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