Review: *Originally written January 1st, 2017* "You gotta have faith"
I've always been a huge fan of Martin Scorsese, so my expectations for Silence were at an all-time high, and those expectations managed to be exceeded as Scorsese delivers one of the most intimate, personal and emotional films of his career.
This is a far cry from the fast-paced debauchery of Scorsese's previous film 'The Wolf of Wall Street' (Which I loved), Silence is instead a much quieter and personal film with spurts of tension and brutality.
As an Atheist, I wasn't entirely sure how I would feel about a film centred around Christian faith. While I find their beliefs utter nonsense, you have to feel sorry for the torture and hell these people were put through purely because of what they believe. The methods of the Japanese in this situation during the 1600's was absolutely barbaric, and Scorsese's precise direction captures the brutality of this perfectly. This was nearly 3 hours of pure harrowing horror.
It's shown extremely risky to create a faith based film that is actually good. The most popular example I can think of is the 'God's Not Dead' series, which is just cheap, offensive, misguided propaganda with a completely one-sided viewpoint. Silence does not suffer from any of the problems those disasterpieces do.
I felt very much the same way watching this as I did The Revenant. It's nearly 3 hours long, but perfectly paced, never boring and completely exhausting by the end of it. I can't imagine this is one I'd rewatch often.
In terms of performances, everyone was excellent. Andrew Garfield gets a lot of flack, but he is front and centre here, giving it his all. Giving us a heartfelt performance that captures his struggle of questioning his faith and questioning God when he sees the horrors of what goes on in Japan in his quest to find Liam Neeson's priest with Adam Driver after Neeson publicly denounces his faith.
While Andrew Garfield is clearly the lead with the most screen-time, the other two 'leads' do a great job. Adam Driver gives one of his best performances, while Liam Neeson makes every second count from his role that is nothing more than an extended cameo.
Even with the excellent performances, compelling story and emotional highs. Where Silence is at its best is with its visuals. Scorsese has crafted the best looking film of his career. Every shot is gorgeous. From its long lingering landscapes to its haunting final image that will stay with me, Scorsese has raised the bar for how beautiful films can be in 2017. Bravo.
Silence surpassed every expectation from me. Visually striking, haunting, intense and wonderfully acted. Another masterpiece from Scorsese in a long line of masterpieces. 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for films.