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Review: Silence

The legendary director himself

Silence is directed by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, director of the classics: Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. I love Raging Bull to pieces; I can’t decide whether it or Drive is my favourite film of all time. Silence stars Andrew Garfield, with supporting actors Adam Driver and Liam Neeson. Garfield and Driver play missionaries to Japan during the 1640s in search for Father Ferreira (Neeson), who according to rumours has denounced God and converted to Buddhism.

You might recognise Garfield because he played Spider-Man, and also because he can’t stop whining in nearly every interview about how sad he is to have been made to leave the character. Garfield needs to realise that he is far better off without the character, with his performances in challenging roles such as Silence and The Social Network having proved this. He is very skilled with characters more complex than Peter Parker. Rest assured, his name on a movie poster will now grab my attention.

Adam Driver

Neeson hardly features in the film. While you could see this as a waste of his talent it is easy to overlook because the surrounding cast is stellar. Even Driver, who I have only seen previously in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, gives us an added dimension to the decisions that Garfield’s character makes.

This film is thematically very weighty, and so it should be with a subject such as religion. Scorsese is very careful in what he shows of the torture and how both sides of the conflict are perceived. Two characters who, while being against the missionaries, always seem to offer rational argument are the Inquisitor and Interpreter, played by Issei Ogata and Tabdanobu Asano respectively. These two characters are written in a way that is oddly entertaining, with both being able to light up the screen in this otherwise very dark film.

Andrew Garfield. Hopefully after this film he’ll realise that he really doesn’t need Spider-Man.

Scorsese uses a fair amount of Jesus imagery throughout the film, something I usually think is rather lazy as deeper meanings go, however he manages to make a very powerful point with it. The scenes of torture are contrasted with slower sections, breaking their gruesome nature. There is one scene of major violence, the effect being all the more powerful due to the slow pace of most of the film.

Certain moments of direction and writing stand out in this film, especially the use of silence. The film is not a watch for the faint-hearted, I would compare it to Schindler’s List and Prisoners in terms of how emotionally powerful it is. If you can brave either of those films then you must watch Silence, it is a masterclass in acting, writing and directing. Despite Scorsese being thought of by some as past his best, he has shown that he can still deliver.

Do not dismiss the film based on your personal religious beliefs. While I like to believe in the big man in the sky, then at least one being would read my reviews, two atheist friends who also watched the film with me agreed on the height of its quality.

★★★★★