Silence is obviously a passion project but it goes on so long that it loses any weight by the end.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Summary: Two priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.
“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” is the proverb and it rings true in movies as well. Warcraft was made with the best kind of intentions that fell apart about five minutes in. The problem with passion projects is that it is hard to look at them objectively. This is why authors need multiple editors to look at their work; they poured their heart and soul into their work and aren’t able to cut what needs to be cut or fix what needs to be fixed. One of the reasons that the Star Wars prequels failed on several levels is because no one was willing to tell George Lucas ‘no’. In the case of Silence is appears that no one was able to tell the great Martin Scorsese ‘no’. There is a great movie within Silence but the absolute killer two hours and forty-one minute running time unfortunately kneecaps it.
This was a movie that was not screened for many critics before the end of the year and was, thus, exempt from some awards voting (as a member of the Utah Film Critics Association we were told that we weren’t getting screeners for this movie and when pressed for an explanation as to why we got none). There was a junket but it was small and hard to get into, but the comments coming out of those small groups of people that saw Silence was ‘it’s long’. There are a lot of movies that are long and don’t suffer for it. No matter how long a movie is you shouldn’t feel compelled to check your watch to check the time; you should be so engaged that the time doesn’t matter. The Martian is only seventeen minutes shorter than Silence but you don’t notice how long The Martian is because it is always engaging and entertaining. There were moments of engagement in Silence but not enough to justify that running time.
The movie has a lot to say about Western expansion and the idea of forcing ideals on foreign people, and while it tries to be as balanced as possible there were moments that still felt like we were seeing this story told through the wrong eyes. The movie is focused on finding the mentor of our two priests played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, and without spoiling everything what they ultimately went through turned out to be much more interesting than the story the movie decided to focus on. It’s a movie that might not appeal to the faithful, either, as it is about the horrible suffering that religion sometimes calls expects of its true believers and whether that’s right. While it seems to come down more or less on one side versus the other, it ultimately tries for a ‘have your cake and eat it’ ending that really doesn’t work.
Silence is a movie that was obviously crafted with a lot of love and passion behind it but that is ultimately why it doesn’t appear to work, either. There doesn’t appear to be much of a target audience and everything is too held back and solemn to really connect on an emotional level.
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