This Week's Review: Silence

On February 4, I finally had a chance to see Silence, Martin Scorsese’s story of missionaries in seventeenth-century Japan. When I first saw the trailers, I wondered if the plot would be too much like Shogun, but that was a false alarm. This film takes place some time after Shogun, but does explore similar territory, the role of Jesuit missionaries in Japan and the persecution of their converts.

The cast is good; Andrew Garfield was better in Hacksaw Ridge, but he does well as a missionary troubled by the silence of God at a time of crisis; Adam Driver is better as his fellow priest than he was as a would-be Darth Vader in Star Wars VII: the Force Awakens; but it is Liam Neeson who has the best role, that of a possibly apostate priest.

The film has been nominated for an Oscar because of its cinematography and the nomination is well-deserved. The film is a bit long. While the film is less violent than many of Scorsese’s other films, the scenes of persecution are hard to take. They are far more brutal than most Hollywood depictions of Roman persecutions of early Christians.

The film is worth seeing for its visual beauty as well as for its ideas about faith and doubt.