Star rating: 1.5/4
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese (based on the 1966 historical fiction novel by Shūsaku Endō)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver
Edited by Thelma Schoonmaker (my idol)
I felt nothing after watching this movie. I saw it at 18:45 on a Friday night in one of Paris’ most popular movie spots in the underground shopping mall next to the Louvre museum. The entire theater was sold out. I still felt nothing. The story felt so phony. Was it the undoubtedly intentional lack of music (yet somehow two people were credited as score composers, what…)? The lack of intrigue? The lack of heart? All I knew walking out of the theater two hours and forty minutes later is that I did not want any part of it.
Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson are some of the finest living actors. Yet, why did our leading man, Andrew Garfield, who normally puts in 110% into his roles and practically sweats pathos on-screen, leave me feeling nothing? As for Adam Driver, his accent was sort of terrible…it kept drifting in and out during scenes. I never could grab ahold of who his character was. I could also same the same for Liam Neeson’s character.
For a quick summary, they are all Jesuit priests in the mid 1600s. Father Rodrigues (Garfield) and Father Garupe (Driver) leave Portugal and travel to Japan in order to find out what happened to their mentor, Father Ferreira (Neeson), who may or may not have apostatized. It’s a simple enough concept that is absolutely beaten to death by a constant voice over narration that you just want to say enough already, please stop interrupting the movie. That is, until you realize movie is an uphill battle to 2 hours and 40 minutes so any sort of action is stimulating and will hopefully wake you up. The narration helped with that—but so did a graphic beheading.
I had so been looking forward to seeing my first brand-new Martin Scorsese movie on the big screen. Yet, Silence felt overly crafted. Don’t get me wrong, I like the story. I have always been an advocate for more religiosity in mainstream cinema, since most of the world is religious. I find it wildly unfair that the only justified reason a main character gets to be religious in a non-satirizing way is to make them a crime boss or over-the-top immoral person. However, as a religious person, who likes to think about and question religion with people of other religions and non religions, none of this movie resonated with me at all in that sense. It was like taking a bite into an oatmeal raisin cookie after being promised chocolate chip. Scorsese got something wrong somewhere along the way with regards to wanting the audience to reflect on his or her own religious (or non religious) beliefs.
I’m all for what Martin Scorsese was trying to do, but like, how did he not fall asleep while editing this with Thelma? Perhaps, Scorsese wanted us to feel nothing. I could see Scorsese’s intention being that he wanted us to feel abandoned by the director in the same way that the priests felt abandoned by God. I respect that, but I don’t agree with it. I don’t think the results justified what he did. I wanted to feel something more after a movie like that. But hey, when you’re Martin Scorsese, you can do whatever you want.
P.S. Cinematography Oscar nomination (@Rodrigo Prieto) is well-deserved.