Silence

LetterboxD review link

I’m not a religious man. But I’m fascinated by religion. I studied Islam extensively in college. I grew up around many devout Christians. Members of my extended family are committed Hindus. Next to politics, I think religion is the single most fertile area of social inquiry, that tells us more about what it means to be a human, living in this world, than anything else.

As a document of religious story-telling, Silence is a fantastic film. It grapples with some of the most important questions for religion — why do we believe? What does it mean to live as a religious person? How far are we willing to go, to live according to our beliefs? Is believing an individual or collective act?

These questions are explored in the context of suffering, pain, oppression, and powerlessness. Every frame in this film is weighed down by the heavy reality of its characters, none of whom is happy, per se, but driven in their own way. Motivated by their own passions. It is salvation they were promised, not happiness, I suppose.

Scorcese’s mastery of directing, photography, sound, and story telling are all on display here. Perhaps not his best work ever but even average work for him is head-and-shoulders above most others.