FlixChatter Review: Martin Scorsese’ SILENCE (2016)


To close out his trilogy of religious theme film that includes The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun, Martin Scorsese has spent over 20 years on trying to bring his latest picture to the big screen. Based on the novel by Shusaku Endo and technically a remake of a Japanese film that was directed by Masahiro Shinoda from the early 1970s, it’s his most passionate film and will test the patience of many of his devout fans.

After receiving a letter from Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), detailing his difficult times in Japan when he and other priests were trying to bring Christianity to that land in the 1600s. His two students Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) decided to make a trip from Portugal to the Far East in order to find out what happened to their mentor. Upon arriving in Japan, the young priests are exposed to a secret world of local Christians who has to keep their faith under wraps because it’s consider a crime to believe in Christ. Both Rodrigues and Garrpe need to stay in low profile to avoid being seen by the Japanese authority. But soon Rodrigues was captured by local shoguns and brought before Inoue (Issei Ogata), an inquisitor who insists the priest renounce his faith by stepping on bronze image of Jesus. Refusing to break as he searches for Ferreira, Rodrigues is exposed to many horrors and extended captivity, left with only his searching, questioning mind to keep him focused on God’s love.


Clocking in at nearly 3 hours long, it may test the patience of some of the most devout Scorsese’s fans out there. The film does feel slow at times and about 20 minutes could’ve been cut out. But on an artistic level, it might be Scorsese’s best work since The Age of Innocence. It’s beautifully shot and he even decided to not use any music in any of the more dramatic scenes, in fact I don’t recall hearing any theme music in the entire film. Anyone expecting to see some kind of graphic violent sequences will be sorely disappointed. He wisely focuses on the emotional suffering of the characters as opposed to showing the tortures in graphic details.


Performances by the actors were great; Garfield seems to be on a roll this year. He’s been asked to carry the entire film and I thought his performance was superb. Here’s a man who truly believe in his faith and yet he has to witness some of the most horrific things that people would ever do to one another. It’s an emotional performance that I don’t believe many young actors in his generation can achieve. Driver has a smaller role and he’s decent here as a priest who seems to be questioning the existence of God. Issei Ogata gave an interesting performance as the aging shogun, he’s truly believes in his mission to eradicate any western influences to his homeland. Yôsuke Kubozuka also was very good as the slimy character that betrayed Rodrigues several times yet asked for his forgiveness. Asano Tadanobu showed up later in the film as the interpreter and tried to convince Rodrigues to renounce his faith. Lastly, Neeson gave a kind of laid-back performance but I think it fits what his character went through.

This is a heavy film and Scorsese doesn’t bring his usual stylistics to the picture, remaining more observational, relying on editing to experience the journey. Filled with beautifully-shot sequences and great performances, it’s a film that deserves to be seen but I wouldn’t call it an entertaining one.


So have you seen SILENCE? Well, what did you think?

29 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Martin Scorsese’ SILENCE (2016)

  1. rockerdad

    Nice review Ted. This movie intrigues me and would like to check it out. I remember seeing the Last Temptation of Christ as a teen amid all the controversy. I thought it was a beautifully done film. Scorsese was said to be a Jesuit in training in his youth. His making this film makes complete sense. Apparently, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood led him to a different path hehe. Speaking of Scorsese, I’ve just rewatched the Last Waltz after reading Robbie Robertson’s memoir ‘Testament’ about The Band. Quite a contrast from the movie you just saw. It is well known that the band members and Scorsese himself were dabbling in a little too much cocaine. Pretty obvious with the interview footage in that one.

    1. Hey Vince, let me know what you think when you see this one. Yeah I remember watching an interview of Scorsese and he said he almost became a priest if not for his love of filmmaking. I think The Last Temptation of Christ is a better picture than this one but I haven’t seen that film in a while. I’ve never seen The Last Waltz, one of the few films he directed that I have yet to see. I’m not surprised at all that these famous people were doing coke back in the days, lol!

  2. I am yet to see this movie, and keep hearing that its watching is a long-drawn, painful experience. Surely, it cannot be that bad? What I don’t want to see is overt self-indulgence. I guess if you are Scorsese, you can make any movie you want. You call all the shots, and it will still be at least moderately successful.

    1. Like I said in the review, it’s not what I call an entertaining film but if you’re a fan of Scorsese then you might want to seek it out. It’s his most passionate project so you can say it’s quite self indulgence in the film. But I think he made this film for himself and don’t expect it to make a ton of money like his previous films.

  3. I’m a big fan of Martin Scorsese as I do want to see this as the premise itself as well as its themes of faith and the existence of God is something that definitely intrigues me.

  4. Great review! My theater finally got this so hopefully they hold on to it long enough for me to see it next weekend. The run time makes me a bit iffy though.

  5. Hey Ted, I definitely want to see this now after reading that there’s no graphic violence. I agree that I think it’s wise that Scorsese focuses on the emotional torture, which can be more effective.

  6. Hey Ted, that was a great review. I really wanna watch Silence and it was pretty visible from the trailer that it’ll be a slow movie that demands a patient viewer but so was Taxi Driver and we all know what masterpiece that movie turned out to be.
    I love Andrew Garfield and he’s surely killing it in his career right now. So happy to see him in such serious roles!

    1. Hello Shivani, Taxi Driver is one of my favorite films and I think it’s better than Silence when it comes to Scorsese’s work. But they’re totally different kind of films so I can’t really compare the two but hope you’ll like it when you see Silence. I think Garfield is building his resume to be a more serious actor after the debacle of the last Spider-Man, hopefully he’ll continue to choose wisely for his future movie roles.

    1. Thanks man, I don’t really care for any awards stuff but yeah it’s kind of surprising that it didn’t get any major nominations except for cinematography. I thought Garfield was better in this film than in Hacksaw Ridge. What’s even more puzzling is that I thought this was Scorsese’s most artistic film in a long time and yet the Oscar voters didn’t even care to nominate.

  7. Endō’s book is stunning and Scorsese really does it justice on a stylistic level. It doesn’t all work, but it’s definitely a fantastic film. Shame it didn’t get more Oscar nominations though

    1. I’ve never read the book but saw the original film that came out in the early 70s and I thought that was good too. Yeah it’s a shame that the Oscar voters pretty much ignored the film but I believe many of the voters probably didn’t even see it or couldn’t get through the whole film.

  8. It is indeed a “heavy film” Ruth and your review captures the essence of it. It is both a complex film and at the same time very simple: religious arrogance is responsible for untold misery through the ages. Its 2 hours and 40 minutes well spent.

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