With Silence we see Scorsese revisiting the theme of faith, previously seen in his late 80's film The Last Temptation of Christ. Silence appears to be a nod to the old big budget Hollywood films of the '50s and '60s; mainly due to its unusual length, its theme, and its gradual unfolding. It heavily reminds of an Easter TV showing of some Charlton Heston religious epic, with running time of three hours plus. Undeniably Silence is a visually stunning film with some remarkable performances, but it is not enough to save it from its uncommonly long duration (2 hours and 41 minutes).

The film starts when news arrives at the congregation of St Pauls College in Macau, Portugal that Liam Neeson's Padre Ferreira has committed apostasy after being heavily tortured on a mission to Japan. Upon hearing the news of his apostasy, his two young protégés - Andrew Garfield's Padre Rodriguez and Adam Driver's Padre Garrpe - are finding the news hard to swallow, and despite warnings of Christians being persecuted by the current Japanese regime, they are desperate to go there and find him. At an insular period in Japanese history, where any deviation from the Buddhist religion is punished, the secret burgeoning Christian faith is a major threat.

Rodriguez and Garppe wash up at a remote Japanese village, and despite them being welcomed, the villagers have to keep them in hiding, as they are in danger of being caught by the Samurai. As the film progresses, they are faced with the criminalisation and the onslaught of torture inflicted on locals and subsequently on them. Rodrigues eventually locates Ferreira in a Buddhist temple, but Garrpe's fate is less fortunate; drowning while trying to save a young Christian girl at the hands of the Samurai. Ferreira is now fully integrated into Japanese culture; denouncing his Christianity, living as a Buddhist in the temple. A similar fate finds Rodrigues, who finally denounces his religion, not only to save his life but stop the punishment of others.

Garlfield seems to comes into his own as Rodrigues. His Portuguese accent is on-point, sounding incredibly natural. He starts out as fresh-faced, often handsome, idealistic priest; his innocence is slowly eroded by the constant ugliness he is subjected to. He is highly convincing throughout this change, embodying the role completely. Driver, however, starts off slightly wooden, his peculiar accent is hard to pin down, but as the film progress and his role evolves, he seems to settle into it, becoming more agreeable.

For younger audiences, Liam Neeson is possibly known as a present day Harrison-Ford-action figure from the Taken series, but in Silence we see his true acting potential as the surrendered and down-trodden Ferreira; bringing flashbacks to his previous iconic role in Schlinder's List. The film also sees a plethora of Japanese actors, noteworthy of Scorsese for sourcing out local talent, specifically the brilliant Yôsuke Kubozuka. His role as the cowardly, flighty Judas-inspired Kichijiro who provides, if brief and unintentional, a sense lightness to an overall bleak story.

Despite this bleakness, the film is simply aesthetically beautiful and arresting. Each scene is like a portrait; masterfully presented and detailed and it's through the slowness of pace that allows viewers time to take it all in. The expansive Japanese wildlife, the dark, choppy waters, the abundance of rain and grey skies; it all adds to a depressing mood that prevails throughout the film. The realistic presentation of the locals in their remote villages; living in abject poverty; looking filthy in their humble huts; unwashed with dirty hands and faces and rotting teeth. On the other side spectrum, we have the impeccably dressed flamboyant Samurai, with their signature top knots; riding around on horses, imposing law by inflicting punishment were possible. It all appears to be a real depiction of the time.

Unfortunately, the film's beauty and interesting, over-arching theme is not enough to truly save it from touching the fringes of boredom with its long runtime and sluggish pace which at points makes for difficult viewing. Yet, to its merit, it is this slow pace that perhaps gives character and plot depth that you don't usually get in today's cinematic landscape and thus making pivotal scenes even more poignant. An impressive film that will likely age well, but it was probably meant for an earlier decade.