UK Rating: 15
Release Date: 1st January 2017
Running Time: 161 minutes
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson
(This review contains Spoilers)
Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ is a ‘Marmite movie’. You love it or you hate it. Tim Hanley, writing for the Catholic Herald, describes it as, “the most profound piece of Catholic art produced in recent years”, whilst Monica Miller in Crisis magazine considers that although, “This movie seriously examines Christian themes and ideas” it is not in fact a Christian film. I would have to agree with the latter statement. ‘Silence’ is that most dangerous of things, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It is not the main character’s apostasy itself that is so problematic. None of us know if we would stand or fall. This beautifully filmed and acted piece could easily have been a sensitive portrayal of human weakness. But it’s not. Rodrigues isn’t shown as apostatising from simple weakness, unable to bear the emotional torment or to withstand the voice of the devil (so loud and clear through the coaxing authorities). Instead, he hears—or thinks he hears—the voice of Jesus telling him that apostasy is okay. Clearly Our Lord forgot to mention that in the Bible.
Rodrigues lives out his life spiritually dead, only, the film hints, it’s all okay really, because deep, deep down, he still believes—even though he obediently writes books ‘disproving’ the Christian faith. Even though he never again gives even the tiniest public sign of his faith. Even though he apostatises over and over again. Even though he appears to refuse absolution to someone begging on their knees. This is all okay, because he’s doing it to save the lives of the Japanese believers. Their lives, note. He—and the film—seem to have forgotten the existence of souls.
So what is the final message of ‘Silence’? That staying alive and avoiding suffering are far more important than keeping the faith. That the importance of our mortal life here far outweighs that of our eternal destiny.
This film is poison. Beautiful, well-acted, compelling… and spiritual cyanide.
Overall: I suggest you avoid. With a barge pole. Preferably a blessed one.
Sex/Violence/Nudity: No sexual content. Scenes of torture and execution, quite graphic. No graphic nudity.