Throughout most of his films, Martin Scorsese has explored the theme of Christianity to some extent.
Whether it’s the battling immigrant church clan in “Gangs of New York”, “The Last Temptation of Christ”, or the schism between Catholicism and mafia life in “Mean Streets”, Scorsese has sought to discover what Christianity is. His latest movie “Silence”, in the opinion of this writer, caps off his journey with Christianity.
The film follows two young Portuguese priests, Sebastião (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco (Adam Driver), in their search for their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), throughout Nagasaki, Japan. It has been rumored that Ferreira rejected the faith when faced with choosing between his life and his relationship with God. The priests seek to discount these rumors by going to Japan themselves. This main plot is merely an avenue for the writers, Jay Cocks and Scorsese, to explore Sebastião and his personal struggles with God.
What makes Silence stand out is the writing, giving real depth to all three characters portrayed by Neeson, Garfield, and Driver, and even some of the supporting characters. The psychological and physical struggles all these characters go through is conveyed in a way that leaves nothing to the imagination, but also does not insult the viewer’s intelligence.
Paralleling itself with the writing is Scorcese’s impactful directing style. Silence is eye candy, showing the beauty of Japan, as well as its horrors of the time. While watching, it is evident that Scorsese put his heart and soul into this film.
As for acting, there is no performance that does not satisfy. Garfield continues to show the range that he has as an actor, and Driver’s tone and demeanor throughout the film is incredibly well rounded.
The biggest surprise was Neeson, who, as of late, seems to be cashing in paychecks for sub-par movies. He, however, gave an extremely thought provoking performance, and one for which he should be remembered.
Silence is by no means an easy film to watch for its length and subject matter, but that is also what makes it so compelling. Scorsese did a wonderful thing here by taking a fresh approach on a topic in Christianity that has been overdone in film since the silent film era. This is definitely a film that deserves to make the top ten list of this film calendar year, and the Academy should be kicking themselves for not giving it the recognition that it deserves.
9 out of 10 Guertler Guarantee
— Luke Guertler, Staff Movie Critic