Scorsese is a director I trust. More often than not he knocks stories out of the park so when he tackles a subject matter that doesn’t immediately leap out at me then I am particularly intrigued. Silence is one of those stories.
It is the story of two Catholic missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) at a time when Catholicism was outlawed and their presence was forbidden.
This film is a beautiful and thoughtful slow burn of an experience. It is equal parts punishing and inspiring and for me, a man of agnostic faith at best, it was an insight into a particular part of religious history that I knew very little about.
The performances are uniformly wonderful. Adam Driver as Padre Garrpe is sensational as always, Liam Neeson lends a calm and steady turn as Padre Ferreira and the likes of Yôsuke Kubozuka as the ever repenting Kichijiro and Issey Ogata as the grand inquisitor filled with smiling menace are all outstanding. The real surprise for me though is Andrew Garfield. I have not enjoyed the work of Andrew Garfield before. I find him smarmy and overly expressive and I oftentimes get taken out of the story by his lack of talent however by the final act of this 161 minute tale of struggle I actually realised I was still with the character. This is high praise indeed from me considering my complete lack of enthusiasm normally and hopefully it is a turn that continues into his future projects.
Whilst this isn’t going to beat Casino or Taxi Driver or Wolf of Wall Street in my Top 100 lists it is still a gorgeous and understated triumph in my opinion. As always, I cannot wait to see what subject matter Scorsese tackles next!
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