Directed By: Martin Scorsese 

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, and Liam Neeson

For just the second time in the 21st century, director Martin Scorsese has directed a live action film not starring his second muse Leonardo DiCaprio — his first being longtime collaborator Robert De Niro.  Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and Wolf of Wall Street all featured DiCaprio.  His latest feature Silence, however, follows in the footsteps of Hugo, Scorsese's 2011 ode to the cinema of yesteryear.  This time around though, we're not being treated to a kids movie.  Silence is a passion project with Scorsese pouring his heart and soul into the film.  Silence is a riveting piece of cinema that speaks to current times by looking to history.  Silence is a captivating reminder that Scorsese is perhaps the greatest American director, past or present.

It's the 17th century, and Christianity has been outlawed in Japan.  For Japanese converts and priests alike, this has meant that they must deny their faith or face certain death.  When Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) goes missing, it is believed that he has either been killed or he has apostatized (renounced his religion).  This is an unacceptable answer for Fathers Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), his pupils in the faith.  After besieging Father Alessandro Valignano (Ciarán Honda) to go to Japan at this dangerous time to find their mentor Ferreira, Rodrigues and Garupe are granted their deadly wish.  With their guide Kichijiro (Yōsuke Kubozuka), they make their way into hostile territory.  There, the two padres find a test of their faith like no other.

Adapted from the fictional novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō about persecution during the time of the Kakure Krishitans, Martin Scorsese's Silence is a historical picture that arrives at an interesting moment in our own history.  Amidst the storm that's brewing in America (possibly golden showers in the forecast), it's a time when the idea of a Muslim ban or registry floats around from our newly inaugurated Tweeter-in-Chief.  To have a vicious, unrelenting film about religious oppression arrive at this moment is a cinematic reminder that history has the unfortunate tendency of repeating itself.  Brutal and beautiful at the same time, Silence is a film that finds Martin Scorsese at the top of his game challenging our cozy modern notions of faith and pulling compelling, nuanced performances out of his lead trio of actors.

Scorsese's fingerprints are all over Silence.  First and foremost, they’re evident in the film's measured but memorable brutality.  It's a rare gift to be able to make violence and cruelty on the big screen uncomfortable in an era marked by moviegoers being desensitized to this very thing courtesy of the endless bloodshed across the entire media spectrum.  It's done in a way that only Scorsese can.  The beloved director's touch can be felt in the eerie scenery marked by dark grey cinematography.  It's very much reminiscent of the ominous surroundings created in Shutter Island.  Most important of all, it's a film about faith and redemption, two themes Scorsese has explored extensively throughout his storied career in cinema.  All in all, it's yet another masterpiece from an iconic filmmaker.

The performances are nothing short of impressive in Silence, notwithstanding the lack of Portuguese accents.  No longer our friendly neighborhood Spidey, Social Network star Andrew Garfield gets to return to his roots and serve up more serious fare as Padre Rodrigues.  It's a fascinating performance that's all about testing his character's will and how much persecution he can endure.  Garfield gets to wear his character's faith on his shoulder in a very impassioned turn on the screen.  Taking a break from brooding as Darth Vader's grandson in the new Star Wars saga, Adam Driver gives us a practical man who realizes the limits of his faith in the face of unabated hatred and animosity made lawful by a willing government.  It's a really intriguing performance in which Driver agonizes over what his Christianity is costing him and all the believers in Japan.  Finally, Liam Neeson gives an uncharacteristically nuanced performance as this humbled man, irreparably broken by the horrors he's witnessed.  It's a trio of solid performances.

is not an awards darling.  It hasn't gotten any love from critics, the HFPA, or any of the guilds.  It won't likely be in the running when the Oscar nominations are announced by the Academy this coming Tuesday.  None of that matters because it's a damn fine movie that speaks to the moment by looking to the past.  Scorsese's Silence gets a sober rating.  Don't miss this one.