Monday, January 9, 2017

Movie with Abe: Silence

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Released December 23, 2016

Martin Scorsese is an acclaimed director who has been making high-quality films for almost fifty years. He has directed eight Best Picture nominees and won an Oscar for Best Director in 2006 for “The Departed.” He worked in the 1970s and 1980s with Robert De Niro on a number of occasions and in the 2000s in a similar way with Leonardo DiCaprio. After establishing a reliable style and transforming his approach over the years, Scorsese returns now with a film that he has been working on for twenty-five years that feels distinctly different from much of his previous work.

“Silence” opens in the 1600s with two Jesuit priests, Father Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), hearing the news that their mentor, Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), has publicly denounced his faith while doing missionary work in Japan. Refusing to believe that he has betrayed his religion, Rodrigues and Garupe set out for Japan on a treacherous journey to track him down. When they arrive, they find a grateful welcome from a repressed people and must fight to decide how important it is to stay true to their faith under a regime that insists on brutally suppressing any deviation from the state-prescribed religion.

“Silence” runs two hours and forty-two minutes and takes place almost entirely in Japan as its protagonists try to fulfill their mission and to help any person desiring a confession or searching for faith along the way. It’s a lengthy, in-depth look at a quiet, loyal people desperate to practice what they want and pressured by those in power not to think creatively. While it is engaging, its pacing is slow, and it’s a lot to take in, especially with its disturbing imagery of torture inflicted on suspected Christians. This movie shows what it means to have faith – something that has always been important to Scorsese – but even more strongly demonstrates the destructive ability of those who wield religion as a weapon to hurt those who believe in a different god.

Garfield and Driver are both hard-working, up-and-coming actors who each star in another acclaimed film out at the moment, so it’s a good year for both of them. Both deliver passionate performances along with a large Japanese cast to anchor this harrowing saga. The film’s editing and technical elements are not as consistent or excellent as is often the case in Scorsese productions, but this is still a meaningful and haunting project.


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