To follow up The Wolf of Wall Street with this movie demonstrates that no director has the sheer vision and chutzpah of Martin Scorsese. We are talking chalk and cheese in extremis here. Not even P.T. Anderson or Alejandro Iñárritu can match his range.
As each movie goes by he lays greater and greater claims to be the greatest movie director of all time.
But Silence will not be, by any means, top of the popularity list.
Because this is film making borne of extreme passion (clearly the source novel connected with him).
This is a cinematic therapy session, a philosophical 15 rounder and languid, arthouse fare that few will love.
It’s a beast of a movie, weighing in at 2 hours and 41 minutes. There is no action. No soundtrack (music) to speak of. No sex. In fact hardly any women.
And it’s about the tension of religious powerbroking in 17th century Japan.
For many reviewers I’ve read (and my wife’s view) it’s just plain boring. And I can understand, but don’t agree with, where they are coming from. It is incredibly slow.
Scorsese’s lifelong editor, the mighty Thelma Schoonmacker, has either been over-ruled in many places or is complicit in its sheer lack of pace.
Certainly it could be cut in places where some repetition is evident and probably unnecessary. That said, its pace is its schtick.
The central premise about religion being the root of all the shit the world had to deal with then, and has to deal with now, is highly topical and that’s what makes it an essential movie of our times.
It even-handedly plays out the battle between Buddhism and Khiristianity (sic) and leaves the viewer to decide if religion is the root of all evil or that some religions have more merit than others. Given Scorsese’s Catholic upbringing this is an impressive feat. I know not whether he remains a believer or an abstainer, but either way this could have made for an overplayed hand either for or against Christianity. The fact that the movie is neither is to his huge credit and gives it it’s real moral backbone.
It’s roundly well performed, the cinematography has a lot of merit and the overall production values are excellent.
But this is not entertainment as such; this is a slog. A reason to appreciate cinema. It’s notable that StudioCanal is behind it. Surely the greatest contributor in recent times to arthouse cinema.
There are no laughs in this. None AT ALL. But it is a venerable movie. And I loved it on many levels.
And put it this way, it sparked a pretty intense post movie debate about the merits of religion then and now.