Martin Scorsese’s unrivalled and convoluted effort of 28 years in making Silence is admirable. The performances, steered by Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson, are as impeccable as the film.
Silence is a gripping, gray tale of two Portuguese priests, Fathers Rodrigues and Garupe, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Silver, who travel to the deathly hallows of Japan to trace their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who is rumored to have abandoned his faith. Their journey runs parallel to Scorsese’s personal exploration of faith in making this film.
Christians across Japan are tortured and murdered in the most barbaric ways. To survive, the last remaining believers are made to publicly renounce their faith by trampling and spitting on the face of Jesus. In a quest to prove that Ferreira’s faith is unalloyed, the Fathers journey to Japan and guiding them is Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka), a Japanese fisherman who has witnessed the persecution of his family by the Inquisitor and his men.
Rodrigo Prieto is laudable for this camera and his Academy Awards nomination is well deserving. The film is visually striking and undeniably gorgeous even in the most excruciating sequences of gore and trauma. The background score adds a layer of depth to this synchronous mysticism.
The film is a powerful narrative which ruminates the essence of religion, ultimately painting a brooding portrait of faith in unanswered prayers. Andrew Garfield’s performance is intense and cerebral. He begins to doubt his faith and his resolve to be sacrificed is lost in a deep contemplation, where he commits the unforgivable sin of pride by comparing himself to Christ. His character is a proxy to director’s very own doubts. He prays unto silence and an incomplete dialogue of his conversation with Lord fuels his mounting disillusionment. Both Adam Silver and Liam Nees are effective in their small roles and so is the rest of the Japanese cast.
Silence is a long, intimidating, relentless depiction of solitude and suffering. The film has its flaws but never misses to highlight the strength of faith. It is the director’s most passionate project, his tribute to the faith that shaped him.