I’ll start this review with a few kind words: At least Leo DiCaprio’s dumb face isn’t in it for once. That’s all the good that can be said about ‘Silence’.
The basic premise is of two young priests searching for their master in 17th-century Japan, eventually bonding with the locals and bringing enlightenment to the supposed savages. With no established background or convincing motivation whatsoever, these two knuckleheads decide on a whim to begin their voyage to a different continent. ‘Cuz Liam Neeson was nice to them once, I guess? Their names are irrelevant, and one of them(I’ll give you a clue, one of ’em ain’t white) is almost immediately forgotten, only to resurface as a prop in a later scene.
There’s a wild-card sidekick who guides them, but then, shocker, betrays Garfield to the local inquisitor. And here comes the real treat: This ‘inkwisitaaah’ and his overbite would have elicited tears of joy from a 1944 American propaganda cartoonist, and that accent… convincing that actor to debase himself that gravely must have eaten up most of the budget, which perhaps is the reason the CGI is such utter shit.
If the movie hadn’t tried to be so sophisticated, it might have gotten away with the shoddy execution. But because Scorsese’s name is on the cover, you are promised some smart and thoughtful two hours. Well though luck, all you get is lingering shots of nothing, way too intense close-ups of Garfield’s face, trying desperately to make you forget he’s essentially a bearded child.
Every single shot could have been ripped out with no discernible consequence. Every single opportunity to salvage the movie is ignored. You’re in Japan, time to show at least some Zen-esthetic shit. Or show the plight, the daily struggle of the villagers instead of having Garfield’s squeaky voice tell us about it.
This movie has a commitment to fuck up every step of the way.
It takes Scorsese over one and a half hours to finally get his pathetic point across: “And in his silence, I heard his voice”, which is an exceedingly pointless statement; even a Jehova’s witness would have laughed you out of court for this. Good, at least the gospel is finally spelt out, time to pack up and go home.
Except, it doesn’t mean shit and Garfield immediately abandons his (carefully constructed) newfound faith and becomes “one of them”.
I can recognize some attempts to insert gravitas into this mess, intentional or not:
- Towards the end, some amateur-level PSYOPS and kitchen-table psychology gets thrown in. You gotta appreciate the effort to make the villains affably evil. Poisoned lands, nothing grows here, a plant that thrives in one place whithers in another, the usual. I’d have expected more imagination in respect to torture methods; refuse to believe feudal Japan had only those wussy vanilla ones - You got the R rating anyway, so why pussy out? Clearly, Scorsese has a torture fetish, just not the balls to go through with it.
- You could construe this as a tale of how an unjust system breaks even the purest of minds. Except Garfield possesses not a single shred of willpower, and his captors don’t even really try.
- The Katana death ended up being quite funny, an interruption of the constant wallowing and pretend seriousness.
- Some philosophical musings, maybe the message is that the poor village souls need Christianity for daily survival while the uppity city dwellers are better served by Buddhism? But then again, the movie is way too dumb for that intellectual leap
In the end, it’s just gnawing your teeth at the lackluster conclusion. The rest of this is mostly bullet points, because why even bother.
- A German merchant(?), in addition to whatshisface-Garfield’s whining, out of nowhere, gets to lend his useless voice to narrate the ending. Why? No one knows.
- The “end of an era” sob story about Christianity vanishing from Japan with the death of the last priest.
- You realize you’ve wasted almost two hours and still no end in sight.
- Are they ‘Padres’, ‘Priests’, ‘Jesuits’? Is Buddhism good or bad? Is their goal to find Ferrari McScottish or help the persecuted locals? To spread 'krishtan'? The movie cannot decide on anything.
- The half-assed history lesson about isolationism, with no attempt to explain or justify the policy.
- The Jesus/God voice: Subtlety, you fuck, ever heard of it?
- Making me watch those drawn-out scenes of pain and suffering, but to no point. The villagers’ sacrifices are completely devoid of consequence.
- Andy Garfield can’t act for shit.
- The Spanish/Portuguese(can’t remember and again, why bother, it doesn’t matter) characters are played by a goddam yank and some Irish(?) guy. Garfield makes an effort to fake an accent for about five minutes before just giving up.
- Just because this senile prick picked up a 5$ book in an airport bookstore, thousands of people had to waste their time on making this self-indulgent cheap Passion-of-the-Christ knockoff
Know your target audience. This is a sob story for catholics, but they’re not very heavy on the new testament and no one in Russia or Latin America is going to see this film. It’s not for Europeans either, the Japanese won’t care and it tries to be too didactical for Americans to enjoy it.
There’s so much pandering going on. If you watch these useless children priests and their piss-poor local subordinates and you’re weeping, then you’re a fucking rube.
So, what’s left? Some nice cinematography, but these days any fuckstick with a gopro can make nice-looking moving pictures. I remain astonished that I managed to write this using only four ‘shits’ and six instances of ‘fuck’.