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SYNOPSIS: In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and propagate Christianity.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Martin Scorsese's devotion to this story is said to have lasted 30 years, and his intensity shows in the crafting of this film. It is visually gorgeous if thematically brutal. Japanese brutality seems to know no bounds, inventing tortures of exceptional barbarity. (One could almost call the film torture porn...) It tends to overshadow the theological and intellectual aspects of the work, which can be viewed either as a tribute to Christianity or a savage deconstruction of it. Both readings are valid, especially for those who are skeptical of the faith and/or of religion.

I don't much like the film for its story, but I absolutely love it for its cinematic qualities. This is not a film for the multiplexes but for the cinemas which are trusted to show films of lasting value, films that serve the gods of cinema.

The screenplay is a detailed telling of a story in which missionary Jesuit priests try to convert the Buddhist Japanese. It's a futile and deadly endeavor, and the way this failure is explained by Liam Neeson's character is the best part of the film for me. There is a clarity to the explanation that allows us to understand the spiritual conflict that is translated into brutality. It doesn't excuse it, of course.

The casting is exceptional, both for the leads and for the various Japanese characters who play significant roles. The inevitable clash of acting styles is diminished by astute direction.

Cinematography is sensational, production design likewise, so the film looks and feels visceral, real, terrifying and sublime, depending on the scene.

The Silence of the title refers to the silence that answers Father Rodrigues' (Andrew Garfield) prayers; a silence that forces him to supply the answers, as if from his god.

Scorsese also uses voice overs - readings from letters - to provide the inner voices and he keeps the tension running relentlessly for the film's lengthy running time. It seems like an indulgence project, but the execution is classy, if harrowing.

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(US, 2016)

CAST: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciar‡n Hinds, Shin'ya Tsukamoto

PRODUCER: Vittoria Cecchi Gori, Barbara De Fina, Randall Emmett, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler

DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

SCRIPT: Jay Cocks (novel by Shžsaku End™)


EDITOR: Thelma Schoonmaker

MUSIC: Kathryn Kluge, Kim Allen Kluge


RUNNING TIME: 161 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 16, 2017

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