By Adam Ray Palmer
Today's review has been a long time coming. I do not mean for Cineroom waiting to see it, I mean it took the filmmaking maestro Scorsese 27 years to bring it to the big screen.
Silence is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson. This powerful adaptation screens at Phoenix Leicester until mid-January.
It's been four years since Marty’s last project Wolf of Wall Street, Silence couldn't be a further departure...
Silence is a religious epic set in the 17th century. Two Jesuit priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver), face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and propagate Catholicism.
Silence has been a dream project of director Martin Scorsese for decades after the award-winning filmmaker read the source novel by Shusaku Endo while in Japan in 1989 and has been trying ever since to bring it to the screen. The 160-minute epic is complex, but also has masterful moments peppered throughout.
Silence is a slight departure for Scorsese in terms of content. The subject matter itself isn’t out of place in the history of Marty’s work; but in recent years, Scorsese has been more comfortable in the crime/thriller genre. Silence is as visually stunning as you might expect from a Scorsese picture, however, a tad on the overly clean side of the ‘shot-calling’ despite the dirt and gore.
At times, though, (it pains me to say it about Scorsese) the visuals aren’t quite enough. The framing is striking as I’ve mentioned, but Silence is not only by name but also at times by nature. Due to its unnecessarily-long runtime, a few pivotal sequences are left quite unengaging and drawn out. It’s a shame as the acting on show is excruciatingly-good with Andrew Garfield making the most of his screen time.
I felt every bit of emotion from Garfield, especially his struggle with his identity when his religious belief is tested. His presence on screen is second to none as he draws the audience in every time as his eyes reveal genuine pain. Neeson and Driver provide adequate support with their own personal struggles but they can’t compete with Garfield’s stellar year in film with this performance and Hacksaw Ridge.
Andrew’s closest rival is the Japanese actor Issey Ogata who plays an odd yet intriguing inquisitor. His character provides the alternative side to the argument and adds weight to this already hefty piece of cinema. The scenes between Ogata and Garfield are probably the highlights for me.
Overall, Silence is certainly a strong piece to add to Scorsese’s ridiculously impressive back catalogue; but it just goes missing too many times throughout the 2 hours and 40 minutes’ runtime. A few sequences could be streamlined and that would help with the engagement being more constant. Instead, I switched off during scenes that were prior to the ‘big-hitters’. I’m just firmly in the ‘not one of his bests’ camp.
Cineroom’s Rating: 3.5 Stars
Silence is showing at the Phoenix Leicester until Thursday 19th January – certificate 15