The new film from legendary Director Martin Scorsese tells the story of Jesuit Priests in 17th Century Japan working with the converted Christians that are going against the grain of the country, and the persecution that follows. When there is a mass killing of the Priests and followers it is feared that one of the senior priests Father Ferreira played by Liam Neeson has been killed too. Two of his underlings are about to leave to help him in Japan when they learn about his possible fate but instead of being cautious they believe that there is still hope he is still alive and either way they should not abandon the Christians that live in Japan no matter what the danger is.
I hadn’t heard that much about Silence over the last year, I knew that Neeson was working with Scorsese, and that was about it. I like to do things that way when it comes to reviews, as little information as possible, which makes viewing movies more enjoyable. We see too much of films before release these days and the enjoyment disappears from going in and being treated to any shocks and surprises inside. I thought from the brief description that someone told me about Silence I was in for a mix of The Mission meets Shogun. I was so very wrong.
First I want to point out that Liam Neeson is quickly turning into this generations Sean Connery. By that I mean he’s just not bothering to even try change his accent, I didn’t think that someone called Father Cristovao Ferreira would have an Northern Irish accent. But you can always forgive a strong performer that minor, yet comical, sin in a film. What you can’t forgive is an overlong, dull, and repetitive film. Sadly the Goodfellas Director could have lost about an hour of this film without effecting the impact of certain moments of the film. The film shows the brutal torture of the Christians both foreign and domestic at the hands of the Inquisitor, the Japanese lord in charge of stopping the spread of Christianity. Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield star as the two young Jesuits who travel in secret to Japan to find out about the fate of Neeson and either way to carry on the mission of the church.
Driver is wasted here, the man has talent and can act socks off anyone around him, but here this role could have been played by anyone and there is very little substance to his part. The whole film rests really with Garfield and it’s his finest performance yet, leaving behind the mask of our favourite web head, Garfield has come into his own here. His part as Father Rodrigues shows a coming of age for this young man, and we should be thankful for that, as this performance is one saving grace of the film.
It’s not that I have a problem with being preached to for nearly three hours, and the constant arguing of the points of the traditional way of Japanese life against the teaching of the Jesuits offers more conflict. It’s just that there is a repetitive nature in the film that leaves you drifting as a member of the audience. With previous films of Scorsese, that have been this length, you are kept glued to the screen and you never want to look away, or wonder if you went to the bathroom would you miss much in the plot, but that’s the case here. There is a feeling that Neeson wants a Best Supporting Oscar nod for this, and that Scorsese is trying to make the ultimate religious film that he started a long time ago with The Last Temptation of Christ. All I know is that the film in front of me last Friday, while Garfield’s performance and the beautiful cinematography with all the other wonderful technical aspects of the film, that are outstanding, is just a limp handshake that squanders the talent of the cast and crew. There is nothing amazingly wrong here, okay, maybe the over long running time is a problem, but for the talent involved this should have knocked us out with one clear punch.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese, Shûsaku Endô
Stars: Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson