Silence is the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests who go to Japan to find Father Ferreira, a priest that has gone missing when he ventured there months before, who it is rumoured has apostatised (renounced his religion).
Silence is stunning. The visual style of the film is jarring in how unique and beautifully awful it is. The camera holds still to make you feel uncomfortable, to make you want to turn away but moves at just the right moment to stop you needing to. Every camera action is precise and planned and meaningful. The audience is shown exactly as much as Scorsese wants them to see in exactly the way he wants them to see it.
The story is mainly concerned with faith and what it means to follow a religion. It intelligently looks at ideas of whether you have to outwardly practice a religion to follow it or whether it is always worth sticking to your beliefs if risking pain for yourself and others. This message is beautifully told through the camera’s bare movements and coldness.
The performances are generally good with Driver and Neeson being particularly excellent. It’s use of music (and lack of it) is important too with the the silences (as the title suggests) being what impresses upon the viewer more than anything.
There are some missteps though, the main characters doing the Hollywood classic of speaking English with an accent is always a doubtful choice. There are also a number of times Rodrigues (Garfield) is thinking obsessively about Christ that don’t really work in the way they are portrayed and instead seem too overt in comparison with the subtlety of the rest of the film.
Despite these (minor) misgivings Silence is an absolutely excellent film and I will be very surprised if it is not on my top 10 list of the year.