Hello, my name is Angelo Edwards, and I do not like Martin Scorsese films.
Oh, the relief! I have been harbouring this secret for so long and now I’ve revealed it I feel so much better! Scorsese is such a visionary and ambitious director and he has nothing but my respect, but his films just do nothing for me. I find them lacking coherence, interest and an editor as all his films are a bloated mess of stuff that just appears to happen.
So, you’d think I’d have chosen something other than a Scorsese film to watch on my first trip to the cinema of 2017. Nope, I chose Silence… and it is over two-and-a-half hours long… and it was the last showing… on a work night… Mrs Film Fluff is still not talking to me… but the silent treatment is worth it though as I can finally announce that I have found a Scorsese film I like!
When two Christian Missionaries (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) go in search of their missing Mentor (Liam Neeson) in Japan, a country where Christianity is forbidden, they find their faith is tested to the limit when they suffer the atrocities that they and their fellow believers are subjected to…
What I admire about Scorsese’s adaptation is that he doesn’t try to choke an emotional response out of his audience and lets the story to do the talking. This is just raw story-telling at its finest. The score is kept to a minimum and is only used to delicately accentuate the visuals and further emphasise how alone and abandoned these two Missionaries are feeling. The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful and sets the tone of the film with aplomb. The performances of the two leads are exceptional despite their Portuguese accents needing more work, and the fleeting appearance of Liam Neeson reminds you of the days he was cast for his sensitivity and not just for his bone-crunching and wolf-punching. If the film went for a more melodramatic tone I’m sure Garfield would be amongst the contenders for an Oscar this year. Shinya Tsukamoto gives a heart-breaking performance as Mokichi and Yōsuke Kubozuka gives a convincing portrayal of the spiritually-lost Kichijiro. Scorsese’s casting of this film has been exemplary.
The editing is, once again, an issue for me. There are moments where the scenes are intertwined seamlessly and the edits are unnoticeable, as they should be, and then there are times where it is so clumsily chopped together that it looks amateurish. The pace of this film is superb for the first third but then it starts to drag and you will feel your patience being tested. It manages to hold your interest throughout but it builds to a point where you think it will end only for it to bludgeon you with more exposition, repeatedly! There is a fantastic film in there somewhere but it’s only two-hours long at most. In spite of my praise for Scorsese’s honest take on this story, there are a few scenes that lack an emotional punch that are filmed in such a flat, matter-of-fact manner when their impact could have been felt on a much more profound level. Some of the more distressing scenes are not handled with the sensitivity they need and it saps the emotion from you when it should be brimming to the point of explosion.
All in all, this was a good start to my cinematic journey of 2017, even if it did cost me a bunch of flowers for Mrs Film Fluff…