I did not really want to see this movie today. I biked 8 miles to the Cineplex this morning to catch an 11:45 matinee of Underworld: Blood Wars, only to find out it was in 3-D or Dolby at $13 or more. I checked other movies and this one was playing at 10:30 for the matinee senior price of $6.73 so that is how I came to be watching it.
I saw the trailers, which got some interest as it was a period piece about Catholic missionaries proselytizing their religion in Buddhist Japan in the 17th Century and the resistance they got from the feudal Japanese. However, it wasn't until I sat there and sat there with many slow, dragged out scenes that I discovered this Martin Scorsese film was 2 HOURS AND 40 MINUTES long. As with most movies over 2 hours, I could easily edit it down and this one could have lost 40 minutes without losing anything except a bunch of dragging scenes.
Oh, I might also mention that I renounced Christianity in my teens half a century ago and for a while subscribed to Eastern filosofy, mainly Buddhism, which made more sense to me than the primitive, Zeus-in-the-Sky-Demigod-Jesus mythology in which I grew up and still live. So, I have never appreciated the proselytizing religions of Christianity or Islam - especially when they confront logic like Pantheism or Buddhism.
That said, it wasn't a really bad movie and it did not side entirely with the Catholics who were persecuted in 17th Century Japan as mercilessly as the Catholics persecuted every non-Catholic faith in Europe and the Americas in the 15th Century and into the Renaissance.
The story revolves around two Portuguese priests Father Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver) who volunteer to go to Japan and try to find out if their mentor, Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) was killed for his faith or if rumors from Dutch merchants of his apostasy are true.
Fathers Rodrigues & Garupe Going to Japan
For those who don't know, apostasy is the renunciation of your faith in Lord & Savior Jesus Christ and would get you tortured to death in Catholic Europe and save you from being tortured to death in Buddhist Japan.
The story was fairly balanced and was a good study of these two adversarial faiths feudal cultures.
Silent Christians in Japan
Japanese Christians being Martyred
The aggregate critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 88% Fresh and their consensus was, "Silence ends Martin Scorsese's decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director's finest works." (I kinda liked The Last Temptation of Christ myself).
A little more verbose is Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com who stating that "Silence is a monumental work, and a punishing one. It puts you through hell with no promise of enlightenment, only a set of questions and propositions, sensations and experiences.... This is not the sort of film you 'like' or 'don't like.' It's a film that you experience and then live with."