<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata, Tadanobu Asano, Yoshi Oida, Yosuke Kubozuka, Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Running time: 2 hours 41 minutes
This snooze fest is way too long, way too verbose for a film called Silence, and far too preachy to be liked by anyone save the extremely devoted.
It apparently took three decades for Martin Scorsese to make this film. All that baggage shows. In trying to make a film glorifying his religion (he wanted to become a priest), Scorsese has tried to please himself and not the audience.
The setting is 17th century Japan, a time when the rulers of the nation were hell bent on wiping out the Christian faith and its believers from their midst. They believed only in the Buddha and considered Christianity to be a ‘danger’. Of course the ‘good’ Christians of the West continue to convert people. In their effort to restore faith to their flock in Japan and also search for a priest (Father Ferreira played by Liam Neeson) who may have ‘fallen’ to the dark side, the Church of Portugal send two priests – Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) – on a mission there.
Their journey is a test of faith for both the men, but more so for Rodrigues (Garfield) who wavers in his beliefs on occasion. At points you don’t know where he stands as he sees his Japanese disciples be truer to their faith then him. Alas, this battle of conscience drags on for hours with several narrators talking in the background about faith, about belief and struggle so that there is very little by way of actual silence in the film. You won’t feel for the characters at all.
After a while the Japanese English accents start to grate on your nerves – especially the shrill voice of the Inquisitor – as you shift in your seat waiting for it all to end.
Adam Driver disappears from the film after an hour only to return later for a brief five minutes. Liam Neeson’s Father Ferreira lacks conviction. It’s strange how he manages to convince the observant Japanese he has adopted their beliefs when he can barely convince you.
All the torture and suffering failed to move me or elicit any response apart from, ‘What silly religions and people these are!’ Surely if every religion simply taught that killing anyone is wrong and that everyone has a right to practise the religion of their choice then we could have avoided all this barbarism in the name of god.
Silence is a film without soul that goes on for way too long and would have benefited from stronger actors than the ones that have been cast.