MOVIE REVIEW: Silence (2016)

After The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Kundun (1997), Silence (2016) is a glorious ending to Martin Scorsese’s religious trilogy of epic and biblical proportions, provoking thoughts on the conflict of faith and flesh, leaving one contemplative and reflective to the power of spirituality.

Silence is an enigmatic discussion about a man’s unprecedented hold onto faith amidst the ironies and propositions that come along with it. Martin Scorsese uses a lot of allegorical techniques, making the narrative rely so much on quietness and stillness, making it parallel towards the protagonist’s psyche, of hearing what the Lord has to say amidst all the silence of his faith. It gives a lot of room for the audience to reflect. That being said, this film is more than just about being studied or examined – it’ll make you go deep inside your spiritual self and open up your senses to live and experience the voyage of the lost and the hopeful, despite not having any promises or certainties. Silence is the epitome of a film about faith – for all of what it is. There are several moments where it felt like Scorsese has revolutionized a new genre of filmmaking solely based on spirituality, as if watching the film is almost a meditation, making one seize the mind and soul; question your beliefs and challenge your faith.

On a technical perspective, Scorsese gave us such fine photography all throughout. The film has such refined cinematography, making it a visually striking piece, it’s almost a contemporary painting full of cold hues and chilly undertones.

Andrew Garfield has once again proven his worth of playing characters subdued in belief with ripped vulnerability amidst the dilemmas of one’s faith and religion – something that he has already accomplished in Hacksaw Ridge. Garfield has that luminous trait of fragility and innocence that juggles the burning fire of passion and the weakness of the unknowing, making almost all of his portrayals so well-balanced, and far from overdoing or underdoing it. His portrayal as Padre Sebastiao Rodriguez is no exception.

Overall, Silence gives us what faith does – it provokes our beliefs; questions our logic; tests our resilience; and most importantly, it makes us contemplate on holding onto the unknown and hoping for an answer, despite the silent responses we get from our prayers. It gives the argument of are we heard? If yes, why the silence? Where is the voice of God? Is He actually speaking to me, or am I just convincing myself of hearing a bleak of whisper amidst the dead silence after I pray? Is the role of faith and religion a mere tool to give hope, or is it as real as the air we breathe?

This film has to be one of Martin Scorsese’s finest works to date. Clearly, the most underrated film of 2016.

5 out of 5 stars

‘500 Days of Summer’ director charms anew in Chris Evans-starrer ‘Gifted’

From the director of the surprise hit “500 Days of Summer,” Marc Webb helms his latest endearing story “Gifted” – starring the world’s beloved captain Chris Evans along with the über-talented Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and rising young star Grace McKenna.

Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man raising his spirited young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) in a coastal town in Florida. But Mary is a brilliant child prodigy and Frank’s intention that she lead a normal life are thwarted when the seven-year-old’s command of mathematics comes to the attention of his formidable mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan)—a wealthy Bostonian whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Mary and Frank. As family tensions and disconnections flare, uncle and niece find support in Roberta (Octavia Spencer), their protective landlady and best friend, and Mary’s teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate), a young woman whose concern for her student soon develops into a relationship with her uncle as well.

“Gifted” began its journey to the big screen when producer Karen Lunder, who has produced an assortment of films including “Arrival,” remembers a conversation with producer Andy Cohen in which she asked: “‘What do you have that’s great and different? What is the thing you’re most excited about?’ He sent me “Gifted.” When I read the script, it had this timeless quality to it. It felt like the kind of movies I grew up watching: it was a throwback of sorts to films of the 70’s and early 80’s that weren’t afraid to make you laugh and cry – that were both escapist and real.”

Like Lunder and Cohen, director Webb responded immediately to the writing. “I kept on waiting for this script to get bad, but it just kept getting better. It was simple, warm and uncynical. The writing felt nourishing to me. Mary and Frank are something like a comedy team with a lot of heart. After spending so many years on bigger movies, I just wanted to hang out with these two.”

In his career, Chris Evans has judiciously chosen a balance of blockbuster and smaller, more interior films. He picked “Gifted” for many reasons but says: “It was more the director than the role. You can have a great role and a great script. You can have a lot of pieces in place but if you don’t have a great director, you don’t have much. So for me it was Marc Webb.”

Webb is particularly pleased that “Gifted” is a movie in which all the intellectual powerhouses are women. “It’s a movie where women are really brilliant and it’s not done as a stunt. It’s something that feels weirdly rare, I don’t know why. I love the idea of having girls who are good at math, women who are good at math. I mean, it happens in the world but we just don’t always recognize that in cinema.”

Webb also thinks that fathers will respond to the message of the film, if his own reaction is any example: “I’m a forty-year-old dude, and I got choked up. All the burly grips hid behind the duvateen (light blocking fabric) because they were crying. I think men are not encouraged to feel, which I think is one of the challenges that Frank has to face, but of course men are emotional creatures too.”

“Gifted” will open in cinemas on May 3, 2017 from 20th Century Fox as distributed by Warner Bros.