Rated R for some disturbing violent content. Two hours, 41 minutes.
Publication date: Jan. 9, 2017
Review by Peter Canavese
This journey is undertaken by Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield), one of two Portuguese Jesuit priests in 1633 who travel to Japan on an urgent mission (the other priest is played, in a keen tone of austere blinkeredness, by Adam Driver of "Paterson"). With reluctant allowance from their superior (Ciarán Hinds), the missionaries go in search of their mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who appears to have renounced the Jesuit faith in Japan, where Christians have been persecuted and driven underground in fear of torture or death.
What follows is, to be sure, slow going, with its run time of two hours and 41 minutes devoted to longeurs of fearful, tortured thought and bursts of physical torture.
And yet, for all its Catholic insularity, "Silence" cultivates enough ambiguity -- skewing to skepticism -- to allow the outsider's perspective on the arrogance of the European missionary, the cruelty of religious persecution, and, most disturbing to the faithful, God's silence in the face of suffering.