Martin Scorsese. What can be said that hasn’t been said already time and again. I will say it anyways. Scorsese is one of the best living directors and arguably one of the all time greats. He has the ability to direct films in any genre with style, which is rare. He has redefined the crime drama with films like Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and Casino. Dark comedies with The King of Comedy and After Hours. Thrillers with Cape Fear and Shutter Island. Drama with The Wolf of Wall Street, The Aviator and The Color of Money. And period pieces with The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, Gangs of New York and The Age of Innocence. And I didn’t even mention classics like Raging Bull or the underrated Hugo. This month he returns to the period drama in a big way with the epic yet intimate film Silence.
In 1633, two Jesuit priests, Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver) set off to Japan amidst violent anti-Christian purges to try and find their missing mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). But during their journey through the country, they are faced with both the incredible faith of persecuted Japanese Christians and the scourge of the Japanese Grand Inquisitor Inoue (Issei Ogata). Their experiences will test much more than their faith alone.
Silence is a towering achievement in an already towering career in film. Scorsese has created an epic and sweeping period drama that also, thanks to a brilliant script and a captivating lead performance by Andrew Garfield, is incredibly intimate. Garfield is absolutely stunning as Rodrigues, a priest determined to fight for his faith in a country that condemns it. And through his time in Japan he faces every challenge a man of faith might have to face and it makes him question everything about religion as a whole, even if his faith never wavers. Scorsese’s direction is calculated and seems to drift silently alongside the characters here, it never overtakes the drama unfolding and never distracts from the story. But it is beautiful. The film feels like an epic novel, a poetic tale of faith against faith. Silence is a wonderful film that must be seen, and not just by Scorsese fans. Very highly recommended.