Silence (2016 Film)

Silence is a tough film to watch. For multiple reasons.

Firstly, the film is long and slow. There’s plenty of material in the film that could’ve been cut out or sped up. On more than 1 occasion, the film repeats itself too. It features similar, if not the same discussions over and over again. There isn’t much of a reason for the film being this long.

Secondly, there’s the subject matter and content. The film features scenes of torture, death and violence and they’re portrayed in an unflinching manner. Some people will struggle getting through those scenes.

The film is essentially one big debate. Christianity or Buddhism? It’s about beliefs and opinions. It’s about learning to accept the fact that other people don’t necessarily share your own beliefs and opinions and how that is or rather, should be perfectly fine. It’s not the most enticing subject and it isn’t always told very well.

In my opinion, it’s the duty of a writer and director to answer and address certain questions, and that they do so in an accurate and suitable manner. I’m not convinced that happens here. I feel like the film is at times a little preachy and irresponsible.

The film constantly tries to tout Christianity. It’s fine to do that, but when the film is about favouring one religion over another, I think it’s important to have a somewhat balanced argument. Throughout the two and a half hour film, the characters only ever discuss Buddhism in about 2 scenes. Probably about 10 minutes of screen time. That clearly shows bias, in my opinion. 

Again, it’s fine for a filmmaker to do this, but I can’t help but feel like it’s a wasted opportunity and that they’re being a little irresponsible. This is a film about debate and yet it hardly ever shares an alternative view.

The ending is also a little problematic. After such a long and tough viewing time, the ending needs to deliver. Sadly, it’s a little underwhelming and disappointing. It makes everything that preceded it, seem a little pointless. That being said, the ending isn’t all that bad, it’s just not worth the journey/viewing it took to get there.

There are some good elements in the film. Directing and cinematography are almost spot on. There are some great looking, creative shots throughout the film. It’s just a shame that half of them were unnecessary, and most of them were cast in so much shadow and darkness, making the action sometimes incomprehensible. 

Silence isn’t a bad film. It features great acting, good looking locations and shots, and when it bothers to get a debate going, it can be a little interesting. Sadly, it’s one of Scorsese’s worst films to date and I can’t help but feel like he’s been a little biased and inappropriate with how he’s portrayed Christianity over Buddhism.


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