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CapeTalk host Africa Melane reviews the latest Scorsese movie Silence.
Why do we have faith? One can argue that faith is a practice and a habit that one can embody. We all have faith in something. Whether it is God, science, institutions, ideologies, and/or our own conceptions of the world, we have faith.
Faith is placing your trust in the knowledge that something much bigger than you plays a role in your destiny. Faith is admitting that you are not completely in control of all the things that go on around you.
So, why do we have faith?
I have come to learn that faith is the hardest thing to hold on to when you need it most. And you will need it in abundance as you marvel at the majesty of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence.’
It is the story of two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), who went on a dangerous journey to Japan to find and rescue their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). While there, the two men minister to the Christian villagers who worship in secret. The faithful in 17ht century Japan are being forced to renounce their faith on pain of torture and death.
Christians were persecuted in the most horrible of ways as they were seen as interference and a desecration of Japan’s ancient ways.
The priests hide in a small hut near the village during the day, and they lead their new flock in dimly lighted rooms with sermons in Latin, baptisms and taking confession during the night.
Reports suggest that Scorsese had been wrestling with Shusaku Endo’s 1966 historical novel of the same name for 28 years before making ‘Silence.’ And you appreciate this in the way he paints incredible pictures of an arresting island country where “nothing grows in a swamp” where religion cannot take root. How do you entrench values of faith and Christianity in a country that boils to death the faithful? “Christ is here,” insists Rodrigues, “I just can’t hear him.”
Scorsese reminds us repeatedly that this is divine work. He does so quietly through his calm and serene handling of the camera; overhead shots of the priests gliding down a flight of white stairs, and in Rodrigues and Garupe first taking shelter in Japan in a cave that brings to mind the story of Lazarus.
This is a labour of love for the accomplished director. His most personal film since ‘Mean Streets’ some film critics suggest.
That Japanese cast is simply outstanding in this movie. Yosuke Kubozuka’s ‘Kichijiro’ is the impeccable Judas to Garfield’s ‘Rodrigues’. Yoshi Oida’s graceful ‘Ichizo’ is the epitome of respect and deference. In my opinion, they are the real stars of this movie.
Garfield left me less than satisfied in his portrayal of ‘Rodrigues.’ New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis wonders whether the pallid depiction is not as a result of Scorsese’s perception of Rodrigues. Driver and Neeson do more than justice to their supporting roles in the film. But, I found that Garfield struggles with the responsibility he is bestowed.
It is this struggle that makes you notice that there is a lack of urgency to this film and it feels punishingly long at times.
Having faith in the genius of Scorsese will reward you with the genius of one of the best filmmakers of this generation.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Yosuke Kubozuka
Running time: 02h41m
Watch the trailer for Silence below:
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