At the Movies

Capsule Review: “Silence” (Paramount)

Dramatically powerful but theologically complex adaptation of Catholic author Shusaku Endo’s 1966 fact-based historical novel about two 17th-century Jesuit missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) in Japan.

Shocked by rumors that their mentor in the priesthood (Liam Neeson) has renounced the faith under persecution, they voluntarily leave the safety of Europe in order to find their role model and minister to the underground Japanese church. What follows is a long, sometimes harrowing battle between doubt and human frailty on the one hand and fidelity on the other.

Director and co-writer Martin Scorsese’s often visually striking drama is deeply thought provoking and emotionally gripping. But the narrative he inherits from Endo is not for the poorly catechized since it stretches and twists fundamental issues of faith and morality in a manner reminiscent of British novelist Graham Greene.

Religious themes requiring mature discernment, much violence, including scenes of gruesome torture and a brutal, gory execution, rear and partial nudity.

The Catholic News Service classification is L – limited adult audience. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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