Silence

January 15, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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Scorsese’s newest film is a profoundly ponderous work that digs deep into the heart to what faith is. Scorsese, who is Catholic himself, is certainly no stranger to religious themes in his work. In fact, though I went in expecting something similar to 1986’s “The Mission,” I found this film to be much more like Scorsese’s own “The Last Temptation of Christ,” in it’s desire to deeply explore the interplay between faith and doubt and the way that suffering can bring these two supposedly opposing states of being into alignment. “Silence” would almost seem to argue that faith is, at least in part, the full acceptance of one’s doubt. Based on a 1966 novel by Shûsaku Endô, a Japanese Catholic himself, the story is based heavily in Japanese history and, apparently, the fundamentals of the story are accurate. Taking place in the late 17th Century, it tells of the persecution Catholics experienced in Japan under Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Fathers Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) sneak into Japan to try and find Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who it is rumored has gone apostate. Their journeys take them through some harrowing experiences. This is not an easy film to watch; though not gory or particularly violent, it is a constant parade of emotional suffering. Against a truly stunning backdrop, the film uses anguish to explore what faith is, how one expresses it and what type of expression is truly acceptable to God. If I have one, rather large, criticism of the film it is that I think the final answers it reaches feel a bit pat. These are incredibly complex issues and the film seems to stay agnostic about the answers right up until its final moments. In the film’s last image, Scorsese seems to be telling us where he lands on the issue. I think I would have found it a much more compelling message without that commentary.

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