“SILENCE” My rating: C+
161 minutes |MPAA rating: R
The trouble with passion projects is that sometimes the passion isn’t felt beyond the small group of die-hard creators involved.
So it is with “Silence,” a film Martin Scorsese has wanted to make for at least 25 years.
This epic (almost three hours) adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel takes on the issues of faith and mortality Scorsese raised with his first major film, 1974’s “Mean Streets,” issues he has returned to [and to which he has returned] often during his long and celebrated career.
This story of Jesuit priests risking their lives to bring Christianity to 17th century Japan is visually beautiful and impeccably mounted.
But it is less an emotional experience than an intellectual one — and by the time the film enters its third hour, more than a few viewers will be wishing for the simple pleasures of a samurai swordfight.
Portuguese priests Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) cannot believe reports that their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who has spent years in Japan, has committed apostasy, rejecting the church’s teachings.
They convince their superiors that they must travel to Japan — where an anti-Christian purge is in full swing — to both learn the truth about Ferreira and to minister to Japanese converts, who for the better part of a decade have practiced their religion in secret.
Their mission is filled both with inspirational moments and abject terror. They spend most of their time hiding from troops under the command of the Inquisitor (Issey Ogata), an arthritic old fellow with a steel trap mine.
Suspected Christians are given the opportunity to renounce their faith by stepping on an image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. After this token display of rejection they are free to go on privately practicing their religion. (more…)