Director: Martin Scorsese
Talent: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds
Released: 1st January
Silence, based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō, is the story of two Jesuit priests (Garfield and Driver) in the 17th century who travel to Japan to investigate reports that their mentor (Neeson) has committed apostasy under torture. Set in a time during which Christianity was outlawed in the country and followers of the church suffered systematic persecution, this is a challenging, often harrowing film, buoyed by a strong cast and a commendable refusal to provide easy answers.
Although uncharacteristically comprised of slow, painterly set-pieces that occasionally bring to mind the work of Yasujirō Ozu, this is still recognisably a Scorsese film, dealing with the same themes of religious doubt and guilt that have been a constant feature of his cinema since 1973’s Mean Streets. Here, however, he focuses on these issues with a single-minded ferocity not even seen in The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun, with which this forms a loose trilogy, and while Silence doesn’t quite reach the heights of his very best work, it is still an important film from a director who has never stopped asking difficult questions.
Words – Felipe Deakin