REVIEW: Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” by Brian Wallinger

In the late 1960’s a young film student set out to make a low-budget, black and white film. That filmmaker’s name is Martin Scorsese. It won the acclaim of Roger Ebert, allowing audiences to discover Scorsese.  His next film, “Mean Streets” cemented not only his presence in Film, but also his continuing collaboration with a young, vibrant actor, Robert De Niro; a relationship that would develop over the course of 30 years.  Scorsese has redefined himself over the years, and no one movie of his is the same.  “Silence,” which is his most personal film, has been in development for 30 years.

Based off the widely acclaimed novel, “Silence” takes place in 16th century Japan during the inquisition to purge Christianity, a corrupt construct against the Buddhist society.  The story begins with two priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) who go on a mission to find another feared dead priest, Oscar-nominated Liam Neeson.

The journey transitions from a search for a man to a search for faith when the two priests are kept hidden in a small, remote fishing village on the island which they have journeyed to.  They are kept in hiding by those villagers who still uphold the Faith and in secret.  If they are exposed, they will be punished and potentially, executed.

A story that is as equally vibrant as it is dark the captivating cinematography conveys a very intimate script.  The film captures what it means to hold on to beliefs in a time of darkness and despair; questioning religion, praying to God for answers when all is falling apart, finally asking what the point of life when there truly isn’t one.

The scenes with both Driver and Neeson are short-lived and the third act becomes a bit derailed by an awkward third party narrative that brings the film to an abrupt end.  There are some moments of repetition and where the script loses itself to a forced sentiment.

“Silence” represents Andrew Garfield’s breakout role, having come a long way from his performance in “The Adventures of Spider-Man” and we are all better for it.  Scorsese’s direction is crisp and on point, filled with emotional and spiritually striking imagery, it is deserved of more praise and recognition than it is currently receiving; the film’s three-hour plus running time may prevent it from reaching mainstream audiences, but it provides for very thought-provoking details within its structured material.

From an early age, Brian Wallinger pursued his filmmaking dreams through several shorts, documentaries and photography.  He is now expanding his horizons towards film criticism and The Movie Revue is proud to have him contributing his thoughts on film and television.

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