Silence Screen 92 of 29 reviews

Silence

2016

Silence Poster
  • Martin Scorsese’s best film in 20 years—since Kundun, in fact, which also happens to be the last of his films to focus primarily on matters spiritual... The moment of Rodrigues’ apostasy is, simply put, one of the most extraordinary sequences Scorsese has ever created—a moment of such superlative filmmaking skill, emotional power, and richly complex meaning that it left at least this viewer overwhelmed. (And this viewer, it should be noted, is rarely one to be overwhelmed.)

  • Martin Scorsese’s beautiful new movie, Silence, based on Endō Shūsaku’s novel, begins and ends in the same way: a dark screen filled with the noise of summer on the rural coast of southwestern Japan, cicadas rasping, waves crashing, thunderclaps exploding, and rain lashing the rocks.

  • In terms of cinema style, it’s a movie whose story seems rather simply told. And that’s true. But the simplicity of the telling is the result of a remarkable distillation. Everything that Scorsese knows about filmmaking is in this movie. Nothing that is unnecessary to his vision of both the narrative and the questions that inform it—no, that fuel it, with a consistent restless passion—is included here.

  • It’s long but engrossing. The shooting choices are unobtrusive but shrewd and imaginative (all the shots from inside the cage!). The performances are marvelous, discounting the now-you-hear-it-now-you-don’t “Portuguese” accents (doesn’t matter). The photography is stunning — ALL photography seems to be stunning nowadays, but the intelligence behind this made it more than just pretty pictures.

  • Martin Scorsese may not have the abstract emotional register of Malick, but he does what he does (conventional narrative cinema, I don't think it's unfair to say) better than anyone else on earth... With the gentle spectres of Mizoguchi, Kurosawa and Ozu guiding him, Scorsese gazes up and down at those who hide confusion and terror behind conviction.

  • There's an enormous amount to say about this film, but for now, what's most remarkable on first viewing is how committed Scorsese is in denying any instruction on How to Feel or Who to Side With in the film's dialectical sparring of Buddhism and Christianity. Even and especially during moments of great strife and horror, the camera is stubbornly even-tempered, making us complicit in the agonized non-participation of Andrew Garfield's childlike would-be Messiah.

  • There is an essential balance to Silence, subverting a colonizer’s prejudices while also considering the prospect that Rodrigues’ missionary work is disseminating objective truth; one does not reduce the other, but enlivens it, makes it meaningful, potent and mysterious.

  • The calm, stark, contemplative aesthetic of Silence is just as aggressive as the mania of Scorsese's other dramas. If anything, the pace and appearance of Silence intensify its subjects and themes as much as the frenetic, kaleidoscopic style of Goodfellas (1990) conveys the seedy, quick thrills of being a gangster.

  • Unlike much of Scorsese's canon, Silence has few visual showstoppers or flashy moments. Instead, this furious saga unfolds almost serenely, clinging to Garfield's mesmerizing eyes trying to unpack all of the confusion, rage and desperation warring inside with devout conviction. That battle culminates in the haunting final scene, which brings to an end this desperate search for something tangible.

  • A movie that will surely grow in stature in the years to come, a great achievement by an American master that we will wrestle with long after everyone has forgotten about ranking their top ten lists of 2016.

  • It's Scorsese’s most expansive historical canvas, but in the tightness with which it plots these torturing relationships that might lead to enlightenment it is his most hermetic, secretively enclosed.

  • It takes the trajectories of Jesus and the Dalai Lama, who must learn to accept their immense, sacred responsibilities, and reverses them in the story of Rodrigues, the priest who embarks on a holy mission and is ultimately stripped of everything he values. Rodrigues will not die a martyr... His sacrifice will not be written about in the annals of his faith; if anything, he will be a shameful footnote. But he will achieve true compassion for another man, the two of them united in their weakness.

  • The movie’s extraordinary conclusion—anchored by a letter to parallel the one by Ferreira that begins the film—redefines the very notion of martyrdom and of the bearing of witness. With a shiver of irony, Scorsese reaches far within himself and far beyond himself, beyond even the scope of his formidable technique, to test the very threshold of the cinema. At its terrifying best, even when Scorsese’s mighty power of invention falters or his efforts show, “Silence” is beyond good and bad.

  • A monumental work, and a punishing one. It puts you through hell with no promise of enlightenment, only a set of questions and propositions, sensations and experiences... The film starts with a long moment of actual silence, and embraces silence throughout its running time, or something akin to silence.

  • Scorsese and co-writer Jay Cocks ask countless questions that elude answers, let alone easy ones, and DP Rodrigo Prieto, largely forgoing the snappy whips and tracking shots one associates with Scorsese, teases a terse sense of desperation from landscapes shrouded by fog and faces wracked by guilt. Should anyone have lost faith in the great director as he’s wandered, late in his career, deep into the weeds of maximalism, certainly this anguished, intimate epic is enough to restore it.

  • This doesn’t quite scream “runaway box-office hit.” But then the man who made Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, New York, New York, and The Last Temptation of Christ has never been one to take the road most traveled. And with Silence—a “passion project” to the max—he embarks on a route no one has ever taken before.

  • It stands out as one of the most challenging films by a major Hollywood director in recent memory. The movie is an enriching confrontation with something almost too large to sink one’s teeth into; you spend two hours and 40 minutes mired in questions Scorsese has been working toward his entire life. It’s a tough watch... Scorsese understands better than anyone else that an undertaking this big risks falling short of grace.

  • When we say “Silence” is slow, we mean that as a high compliment. Its sense of pace is so steady, so assured that, as in the films of Bela Tarr, it almost changes our body chemistry just watching it.

  • It's an epic exercise in restraint right down to its final shot, which is of hands devoutly clasped in prayer. Silence is grand and severe, but not cold or detached; the occasional and atypical distance of the camera from the action at times is a visual device rather than an indicator of indifference. Instead, Scorsese fixes his artistic gaze dead center on the things that have long preoccupied him, and doesn’t blink when they stare back.

  • The film works as a standalone portrait of personal crisis, a staggering recreation of a struggle familiar to even those whose lives exist entirely outside of religious stricture, the fight to hold onto some vestige of belief in a world seemingly designed to shake and shatter our moral foundations.

  • The film is among Scorsese’s most scourging and emotional, never more poignant than when evoking the preciousness of scarce sacred images in a land where they’ve been forbidden... It’s a gorgeous, troubling addition to Scorsese’s corpus, which is nothing if not a monument to visual allurement and moral turpitude.

  • Far from preaching to the choir, Scorsese's hardly even sermonizing here. You can sense him working the material over in his mind, as though 25 years of mental pre-production wasn't enough to reach any concrete answers, and the film is better for its uncertainty. If the good book is an open book, one still open to interpretation and questioning, Silence is too: We don't have to know the ultimate truth so long as we know it's worth seeking out.

  • I deeply admired this film. I found it consistently compelling, although I must admit that I was a bit surprised by the number of my esteemed colleagues who found it moving. Despite Scorsese's frequently exquisite dramaturgy and the expansive, painterly cinematography of Rodrigo Prieto, I consistently found Silence to be an intellectual endeavor. This is a film of distance and remove, from the opening title in helvetica, right up to the final summative image.

  • Scenes of torture, while never very explicit, might nonetheless be too grueling for the squeamish. Those who hang in there, however, will be rewarded with a sincere, heartfelt examination of faith’s limits, or lack thereof

  • All this takes great commitment on the part of Scorsese and his collaborators; his cast are all game... In short, not everything seems to come off, and I'm not sure that this is quite a film for the ages; let it be known anyway that Scorsese is attuned to the ineffable here, and that's five letters more than most good films.

  • As the purest exploration of the director’s great Catholic themes (completely free of New York influences, unlike his earlier The Last Temptation Of Christ), it’s inevitably something of a challenge. It is slow and solemn in stretches and often remote, but it rewards patience with a transcendent epilogue that departs from the main character’s point-of-view to find a glimmer of meaning.

  • By no means a masterwork, “Silence” nevertheless displays the first-rate craftsmanship. However, it’s a surprisingly subdued approach to a story filled with vicious struggles involving men wandering the wilderness at their wits’ end, avoiding perils such as torture by boiling water and decapitation. “Silence” is a haunting, immersive experience that, were it not for a handful of flaws, would rank among the director’s grandest epics.

  • The multitude of political, moral, and psychological failures is both a strength of this film and its weakness. On the one hand, Silence manages to isolate and meditate on a particularly Catholic kind of spirituality governed by helplessly perpetuated cycles of guilt and confession. A Catholic himself, Scorsese sets out to demonstrate the appeal of this form of spirituality, even as he occasionally allows us to see its inadvertent absurdity.

  • It's as visually striking as you might expect, but also overly tidy, clean and decorous, despite its tortured flesh, its mud and its blood. There’s a crushing lack of urgency to this story and its telling, perhaps because it took Mr. Scorsese, who wrote the script with Jay Cocks, so long to make “Silence.” It’s disappointing because few directors can engage doubt and belief as powerfully as Mr. Scorsese can, but also because doubt and belief have again set the world on fire.

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