Silence is Golden.
Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, in his third religious based movie (after The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun), Silence tells another fairly controversial story, based on actual historical facts. Set in the 16th century, the film tells the tale of two Portuguese Jesuit priests, Rodrigues and Garupe, who travel to Japan to go in search of a fellow padre and mentor Ferreira, who is missing and rumoured to have abandoned his faith.
It's a dangerous mission as Christians are being executed by Samurai officials. During their travels they encounter villagers who worship Christianity secretly, as not to be killed. As they delve further and further into finding Ferreira and encountering persecution and torment along the way, will they stay faithful to Christ and face execution or abandon their faith and have a chance to live?
Silence might not appeal to everyone but I feel it's very relevant in today's society. In a world where having faith and beliefs is evaporating, it's refreshing to see Scorsese not be afraid to tackle this subject matter and have it set in 16th century Japan (but was filmed in Taiwan).
There is plenty of violence on offer and the executions, while not exactly gory, are still uncomfortable to watch. The backdrop of the mountains of Taiwan is beautiful and certainly made it more viewer friendly. Kudos to Scorsese because the scenery and attention to detail made the cinema experience even more amazing. You can really take in everything that is beautiful and disturbing at the same time.
The performances are superb and bring this movie to the forefront. 'Mr 2nd Spiderman' Andrew Garfield brings a lot of depth and truthfulness to his role of Rodrigues. You can really see how passionate he is to his beliefs; a man of intense faith, as a priest would be, and won't be budged to think differently, despite the threat of execution from the Samurai officials. I give Spidey credit, it's not easy to bring on the waterworks and he sure cried a lot.
Adam Driver shows his versatility and is definitely an actor on the rise. In preparation for his role of Jesuit priest Garupe, he lost 30 pounds before filming and 20 pounds during filming. To see him so thin during the journey was quite disturbing, but shows his dedication to the art.
And then there was the character of Kichijiro played by Yôsuke Kubozuka; a Christian who constantly turns on his faith in order to save his life but always seeks confession from Father Rodrigues and be free of sin. Rodrigues always absolves him. Kichijiro is the most conflicted character in the film. He once saved himself but watched his whole family die from the Samurai police.
The Samurai police are interesting to watch, particularly 'The Old Samurai', I guess you can call him the main antagonist as he is always smiling and talks slow but it's his cackle which is haunting. He shows no remorse for his actions, he is doing his job and he loves it but always gives the prisoners a choice to denounce their faith or die. It's such a haunting performance and one helluva of a villain.
The ending had me conflicted and has me asking many questions (which is great). What message was the movie trying to convey? What was the moral of the story? Should we give up our beliefs in order to make society happy? Was this a pro or anti-christian movie? I'm not sure but I guess that's not relevant.
While I do feel Silence went way too long and was a tad tedious in places, Scorsese's passion project, which was has been in the works since 2002, is a new high for the veteran director.
While not a masterpiece, it's a very strong follow up to the highly acclaimed The Wolf of Wall Street and it's all because of the beautiful yet haunting backdrop and the performances of all involved including Liam Neeson who plays the missing Father Ferreira in a small yet pivotal role. Worth your time but like I've mentioned, may not be for everyone.
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