Plot: In the 17th century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor, who is rumoured to have committed apostasy, and to propagate Catholicism – Silence.
Director – Martin Scorsese
Released: January 2017
Although I know this was unlikely to be a Scorsese samurai action epic, the coming together of a usually talented director and the likes of Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver gave me pretty high expectations. What I got, however, was a slow and tedious film is about the challenges of introducing a new religion to the Japanese’ people in the 17th century.
There’s only so many times you can watch the same event happen, or a character make the same choice before it gets tiresome and you lose interest in the events. This is what happens in Silence to a laughable extent and helps to make the plot feel dragged out to the point of repetition.
Although I understand the reasoning behind the absence of music, it is clear that Scorsese wanted to produce a film that was somewhat devoid of sound, however, I can’t help but find this gives the film an awkward feeling and taking away any atmosphere that might otherwise have been created. With the moments of dialogue not being enough to make up the slack.
The problem with the dialogue is further exacerbated by the patchy acting quality from both Garfield and especially Driver, whos Portuguese accents fail to sound convincing and lack of chemistry makes the idea that these two characters have known each other a long time feel unbelievable, in fact, in places they didn’t even seem like they were friends nevermind a brotherly bond.
One of the more surprising issues given how normally good Scorsese films are was the general blandness of the visuals, with the beautiful Japanese landscape and culture relegated to a drab and for the most part bland-looking affair, further adding to the boring nature of Silence, just why Scorsese invested 28 years on developing this project is beyond me.
The film has some redeeming aspects, particularly the Japanese characters, who in parts are the only thing driving the plot along. It was also interesting to listen to some theological debates about how and why Catholicism isn’t compatible with Japanese culture or seeing how scared the authorities were that this new religion would spread and destabilise the status quo.