Silence: Film Review


I wasn’t really sure what to make of Silence ahead of watching it and I felt the same afterwards. It is a heavy, intense slog that requires a fair bit of processing. It won’t appeal to everyone, in fact, I’m not really sure who it will appeal to and I’ll be amazed if it makes its money back, which is a shame because it is good, well-made film and features a terrific performance by Andrew Garfield.

Garfield plays Sebastiao Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit priest, who travels to Japan with his fellow ‘padre’ Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver) in the 1670s, when Christians are being persecuted for their faith. They are on a mission to find their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who reportedly renounced his faith after being tortured.

If that summary sounds bleak, well good, because that’s exactly what it is. It is tough, unpleasant and not a film to be ‘enjoyed’ or to ‘entertain’ although I laughed in a couple of places that may not have been appropriate. The Inquisitor (Issey Ogata) was hilarious in his delivery and I couldn’t take him seriously and I think I just need to laugh to break the oppressive weight of the movie.

I was never bored and I was captivated by Rodrigues and his plight but this interest did start to run out towards the end of the staggering 160 minutes running time. The priest’s faith keeps being tested and it grows repetitive. Obviously we don’t want him to renounce God immediately but after however many times, I was like, ‘just do it already!’ It didn’t need to be so long and I was very ready to leave by the end.

Martin Scorsese‘s film tells a story I had never heard before. I didn’t know Christians were ever treated this way in Japan. It is a brutal watch – there are quite a few torture scenes – but is also fascinating in a morbid way. There are plenty of Japanese actors, which is rare to see in a Hollywood movie and the locations/setting was refreshing.

I wasn’t convinced by the accents but that can be forgiven. From the outset, it seems like Garfield shares the movie with Driver and Neeson but that’s wrong, he owns it. Above all else, this has to be seen for his performance. He is SO GOOD. Between this and Hacksaw Ridge, he has had a fantastic year and has established himself away from Spider-Man.

In cinemas Sunday 1st January 


  1. This was a brilliant movie living in quiet reality of questioning faith. It is not a religious movie, (I am not religious,) and show both sides with balance and maturity that leads us to question our motivations as humans. Every opportunity to over dramatize or drive home points with a sledgehammer were mercifully avoided and this is a beautifully crafted movie for adults that shows the reality of jesuit pursuits in 1600’s Japan. One can only imagine how thrilled the Japanese were with this invasion and it is depicted with respect and honesty. Brilliantly shot, with masterful direction and great subtlety by Scorsese, this outdoes his previous works on the subject. If you can’t see it in a theatre… find a way to commit in a dark room without distraction. This film sucks you in if you pay full attention and it is the first time in a long time i have sat in a theatre where it was so quiet you could hear the AC in the background – the audience was mesmerized. Don’t watch it on a computer, don’t watch it on a plane, commit to pay attention but if you can allow yourself 2.5 hrs to sit down and take in this movie it is highly rewarding and one of Scorsese’s best.


    • Hannah Wales says:

      Thank you for such a long and thoughtful comment! Delightful read. I definitely agree with you (besides the fact I found it a tad long). It was certainly beautifully shot and subtly directed and I thought Garfield was fantastic.


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