Silence isn’t for the faint of heart. Read our movie review to find out why this might be Andrew Garfield’s best film yet:Martin Scorsese’s film Silence begins and ends with silence in darkness. There are many quiet moments such as these where the surrounding sounds will drop and leave the audience questioning the experience that unfolds on screen. In trying to make a movie about his frustrations with faith and its mysteries, Scorsese invites us to share his cathartic and somber struggle. He doesn’t offer up any blunt message or easy resolve – only an experience that forces one to examine their own faith and humanity.
It is the 17th century and Japan is not welcoming of the Jesuit missionaries that come to their land preaching the word of God. Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) has gone missing during his work there in which he witnessed many tortures of those that went against Buddhism by embracing Christianity. Rumors circulate that he has apostated and settled down as a Buddhist. Two young Portuguese Jesuits, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver), refuse to believe such talk and seek out their mentor by traveling to the country.
But Japan’s government has become so focused on extinguishing the flame of Christianity that the Jesuits are now hunted with prices on their heads. Japanese Christians carry out their prayers in secrecy, ever grateful that the two priests have graced their presence. Rodrigues and Garrpe attempt to restore faith in Japanese villages while remaining in hiding, but soon realize they cannot stay as the government begins executing citizens they believe to be Christians or harboring priests. Those caught can either spit or step on the image of Christ to apostate or suffer the most excruciating of tortures before dying a horrible death.
Denying the act of fighting against the oppressive government, Rodrigues finds his faith being put to the ultimate test as he endures watching others die for their beliefs. He splits from his fellow priest to seek refuge in another Japanese village he’d visited previously, only to discover the village has been destroyed with all the inhabitants gone. During these quiet moments of reflection, he finds himself going mad as he questions everything: his faith, his mission, his courage, his future, his purpose on this planet. The terrible question looms over him down this dark path–is God listening to all this suffering? There’s a gaping gash of doubt in his soul with no signs of healing, no matter how hard he tries to remain true to his teachings.
The experience becomes even more agonizing when he is captured, imprisoned and forced to consider renouncing his faith as the tortures and killings continue. The cackling codger of the Inquisitor attempts to convince Rodrigues to apostate with uncomfortable debates and slaughtering of prisoners. Rodrigues’ hair continues to grow as his faith continues to diminish with each day, each torture, each murder. A cowardly thief continues to follow Rodrigues, asking for forgiveness only to betray him time and time again, testing Rodrigues’ forgiveness amid the darkness of persecution. And by the time Rodrigues finally meets his mentor Father Ferreira, perhaps the strongest of scenes between Garfield and Neeson, his spirit is ripped to shreds.
Read more to get the rest of our Silence movie review and watch the trailer: