Rated R
161 Minutes
Released January 13th

 

Martin Scorsese has developed his own approach to storytelling and as a legend in his own time, he has earned carte blanche to “march to his own drummer.” His newest movie, Silence, is long, excruciating and horribly gorgeous. This film is not for everyone. Though it cannot be described as a fun, entertaining experience, it is worth seeing.

Scorsese had wanted since the 1980’s to direct an adaptation of Susaku Endo’s novel that is based on historical fact about two “lost” Jesuit priests who had gone to Japan in the mid 1600’s to spread Catholicism. New York City’s Archbishop Paul Moore Jr. had sent him a copy of Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel “Silence” to him. Scorsese was fascinated by the representation of the essence of Christianity as portrayed in the book. Scorsese and screenwriter Jay Cocks wrote an early draft in the 1990’s. They couldn’t get financing for it at the time. After back and forth legal battles regarding Scorsese’s in-demand schedule, the project finally got the green light in 2014, three decades after Scorsese first read the book.

The two main characters are based on historical figures. “Father Ferreira” (Liam Neeson) actually existed in the 17th century. The character of “Rodrigues” (Andrew Garfield) was based on an actual Italian priest named Giuseppe Cara. The story in the film follows two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Adam Driver plays “Garpe,” who travels with Rodrigues) who embark on an arduous journey to Japan to find their mentor, Ferreira, who seems to have vanished there. The events that transpire once the two arrive in Japan are harrowing and ghastly. The government of that country is extremely resistant to the proselytizing of their people by these missionaries. Government officials actually go a step further, enacting a brand of psychological warfare to thwart the efforts of the priests.

Garfield, Neeson and Driver do a magnanimous job with difficult roles on what must have been an arduous production. The shoot lasted nearly four months and was plagued with a series of monsoons. The actors who play the common Japanese village people almost steal the show. Yosuke Kubozuka as “Kichijiro” is someone who should be on the radar of filmmakers, as are Issei Ogata as “Inoue,”Tadanobu Asano as the “Interpreter” and Shin’ya Tsukamoto as “Mokichi”. Casting Director Liz Lewis should be commended for her work on this film. The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is stunning, as is the score by talented young composers Kathryn and Kim Allen Kluge.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this story it is this: When the lines between religious faith and politics become blurred, the result illustrates the concept that humans have the capacity to become more hideous than the basest animals on Earth.

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com