Silence: the Gospel according to Martin Scorsese

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Martin Scorsese's latest film explores the nature of faith and doubt.

Silence, the latest film from master director Martin Scorsese, follows two Jesuit priests, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, who travel to Japan in search of their lost mentor at a time when Christianity was outlawed in the nation.

The film, based on Shusaku Endo’s novel of the same name, has been a passion project of Scorsese’s for almost 30 years. His dedication clearly shows in the final product, as it provides a moving, harrowing portrait of faith and persecution. He has created arguably the most powerful film of his career, bringing out the best of his cast and crew, and taking every chance the story gives to say something meaningful.

Garfield gives perhaps the best performance of his career as the young Father Rodrigues, surpassing even his Oscar-nominated turn in Hacksaw Ridge. He plays the character with depth and complexity, and always prevents him from being a static, stoic representation of Christian faith. Driver is also exceptional as his partner, Father Garrupe.

Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography, for which he received an Oscar nomination, is stunning. The lush landscapes and pained expressions of the characters are all framed with beauty and nuance.

Although the film alters some minor story beats from the source novel, it proves incredibly faithful, taking pains to retain its spirit and realize its characters.

The film does not hold back in its religious and theological commentary but it does so in such an intelligent and thoughtful manner that non-religious viewers will not be offended.

I find the film a much-needed relief from preachy shallow faith-based films such as God’s Not Dead and its sequel. Heavy questions of doubt are asked by the characters, and no easy answers are provided.

As the credits rolled, I found myself wrestling with questions that I have tried very hard to suppress, and felt both spiritual distress and peace. Silence is not an easy film to watch, nor is it particularly enjoyable, but the message and the power behind it should not be ignored.

Silence earned an R rating for its somewhat disturbing scenes of martyrdom. While very few of these scenes are graphic in their violence, they are disconcerting and may make some viewers uncomfortable.

Contact Trey McCabe at [email protected].