Silence is Martin Scorsese’s latest outing that tells the story of two priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver), who travel to Japan in attempts to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and propagate Catholicism.
This is a film that has been long in the works and significantly delayed over the years, taking almost twenty-six years to be developed by the legendary writer/director/producer Martin Scorsese. It’s adapted from Shūsaku Endō’s novel of the same name that has been adapted once before for the screen by Masahiro Shinoda in 1971. With development beginning in the early 90s, Scorsese wrote the initial screenplay with co-writer Jay Cocks but they were unhappy with the draft they’d written and had been re-writing the script for the next fifteen years. It wasn’t until sometime later in 2009 that Scorsese began to realise his passion project for the screen with the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Benicio Del Toro, and Gael García Bernal in talks. This soon fell apart as theSilence soon fell back into development hell and losing the trio with Scorsese deciding to work on ‘Shutter Island’ (2010), ‘Hugo’ (2011), and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013) instead. It wasn’t until 2014 that we started to see any sort of light being shone on this project three years later, we finally get to see the passion project that Scorsese has been working on for more than two decades.
The reviews for this film have been quite positive, which would be quite uplifting after so long and that much effort being put into the film. Silence is an experience in itself and not a film that you like or don’t. It’s something that needs to be seen and begs to be experienced not only culturally but in it’s themes as it questions us about doing the right and moral thing and adhering to one’s sacred vows. This, however, is brought down by Scorsese continually making lengthier films but this is something that’s more frequently being seen in films from Hollywood. Though it may be visually pretty, and the cinematography is something to be enjoyed as the tension is heightened by its use of camera work, Silence didn’t need to be more than an already lengthy two hour run time. There’s no doubt that Scorsese is someone to be relied upon for high quality filmmaking.
It’s a technically amazing film with emotional performances from favourite Andrew Garfield in his second brilliant performance of the last few months with the other being in Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ also set in Japan about a Seventh Day Adventist who refused to pick up a weapon during World War II. It’s another film that proves that Garfield is a formidable actor of his generation and someone to watch closely.
Garfield isn’t the only one to watch in Silence as each character shines in the role they’re given, no matter how big or small their part. It was also nice, for once, to see Liam Neeson in a film like this and not on another action film where he’s trying to save his daughter.
Silence isn’t a film that sets out to shed a bad light upon Buddhism but just to explore a brutal period of history. It’s a work of love from beginning to end and deserves every ounce of credit he can get for sticking through all those years of development to get to where he is today.