Silence – a movie review by Glen Falkenstein
Silence is about as far as you’ll get from Hollywood fare in a February release from an A-list director.
Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating passion project about two Portuguese Jesuit Priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) travelling in secret to 17th century Japan to learn the fate of their once-mentor (Liam Neeson), amidst a rising tide of anti-Christian persecution, may not seem like your typical 161 minutes at the movies, but it is more than worth the trip.
With Garfield nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Hacksaw Ridge, which is also nominated for Best Picture and notably depicts a devout Seventh-Day Adventist who travels to Japan under very different circumstances, it is Silence that evidences the better performance of the two, only one part of a consummate piece of filmmaking in the weeks past denied a Best Picture nomination.
Silence is littered with moving and powerful sequences, and while many are not dissimilar in nature, both their subtle and none too subtle impact lay the groundwork for a number of hugely affecting moments towards the film’s end. The multifarious title alongside the film’s analogous and allegorical aspects contributing to but never overwhelming Silence, Scorsese’s latest epic can be relished as a meditation on theology and faith or as a hugely impactful historical drama, or better yet, both.
In spite of Garfield (in his best performance to date) getting the bulk of the screen-time, it is Driver’s steadfast proselytiser, alongside superb Japanese actors Tadanobu Asano, Yosuke Kubozuka and Issei Ogata who are beyond captivating in demanding and stunningly-realised roles. Alternately compassionate and challenging to no small degree, together they serve ably as some of the film’s many emotional cruxes. Neeson’s appearances, if brief, more than almost any of Silence’s searing scenes will stick in the mind well after the film.
Merited an Oscar nomination solely for Best Cinematography, the sweeping vistas witnessed throughout are but one reason to see this exquisite film now 26 years in the making and worthy of a comparatively small amount of time at the cinema.
Silence is in cinemas from February 16
See more reviews by Glen Falkenstein on falkenscreen.com