-Eli Hoff and Nyke Solovyev-
Martin Scorsese’s latest film marks a stark contrast in style and subject matter when compared to his previous work. Silence tells the story of two 17th century missionaries from Portugal who travel to Japan to locate their mentor, who has allegedly lost his faith as a result of the Buddhist driven inquisition. Known for directing popular films such as The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas, Scorsese makes movies which, though often lengthy, are typically much more fast paced and engaging. Despite this, there are elements in the movie that are often present in the Oscar winning director’s other films. As the name suggests, Silence relies heavily on…silence, maybe to a fault. The absence of sound is an effective tool when there is enough diversity in sound design to make silence stand out, unfortunately this movie relied almost exclusively on this single technique. However, strong visuals created through expert cinematography help balance out this monotony. The cinematography is brilliant, with a marvelous depiction of Japanese nature and very credible re-creations of 17th century architecture and clothing. To an extent, it can be stated that the movie is slowly paced in order to give the audience more time to enjoy the atmospheric and picturesque long shots.
However, the film is not just pretty pictures and traveling missionaries. The plot conveys a deeper meaning, slowly developing the character of the young protagonist, Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield), and showing his digression from a state of passionate faith into deep despair. The story dives into the very core of a person’s “faith,” its relation to politics and a “faithful” person’s perception of the world. Yet, unlike most movies of this category, it doesn’t preach, but lets the viewer decide what to infer from the climax and conclusion of the story.
Unfortunately, Silence is not very easily digested. The film is almost 3 hours long, which is typical of Scorsese, but usually the plot is thick and engaging, making the audience lose track of time and become fully immersed in the story. This is not the case with Silence. A lot of time is given to building the tension and atmosphere in order to fully convey the struggle of the protagonist, which is essential to the story, but it can be pretty tough on the viewer. The sense of dread and despair predominates the film, which creates a very unique, but not necessarily pleasant experience. The movie is very demanding of the actors, but some performances, such as Garfield’s, did strike us as quite unsatisfying and hard to sympathize with. Nevertheless, overall the filmmaking is of exceptionally high quality, and it can be firmly stated that the cast and crew have delivered exactly what they were planning on presenting.
Silence is a heavy and meaningful movie, with very attractive imagery and a long yet thought provoking plot. If you’re looking for an enjoyable evening with a lot of laughter and a happy ending, you’d better watch Princess Bride instead.