Movies and Television

Reel Time | February 2017

Silence movie | © 2016 PARAMOUNT PICTURES


In 1635, two Jesuit priests, Father Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver), embark on a journey from Portugal to Macao. They are in search of their mentor and former teacher, Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who has apostatized and abandoned the preaching of the Gospel.

In Macao, they meet Kichijiro (Yôsuke Kubozuka), an alcoholic who wants to return to Japan. With Kichijiro as their guide, they reach an island near Nagasaki. There they meet Christians who are living underground because Japan has closed the country to the padres. It is not long before word of the priests’ presence leaks, and Inoue (Issei Ogata), a government inquisitor, seeks them out. But he is cagey and crucifies three men when they will not admit they are Christians who are hidingthe padres. Kichijiro is weak and becomes a Judas figure.

The priests separate to search for Ferreira. But Father Garrpe dies trying to rescue Christians being put to death. Father Rodrigues is eventually captured and jailed. His faith is tested: he cannot understand God’s silence in his suffering. That struggle is a central theme in this film.

Silence is based on the 1966 historical novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo (1923–1996). Martin Scorsese directs the film brilliantly through the lens of his Catholic imagination. He and cowriter Jay Cocks stay very close to the novel, though they combine all the government officials into the character of Inoue. Theological and spiritual themes abound in this deeply acted film. Scorsese shows restraint in his depiction of violence, which surprised me.

Silence is a profound story that transcends the usual cinema experience.

L, R ♦ Violent scenes of martyrdom, peril.


Patriots Day

Most people will remember April 15, 2013, when brothers Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) Tsarnaev set off two homemade bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, held annually to commemorate the first two battles of the Revolutionary War: Concord and Lexington.

The film follows a fictional Boston cop, Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), through that day, from annoying his wife (Michelle Monaghan) at home, to responding to the explosion, to helping hundreds of officers search for and take Dzhokhar into custody. The urban battle between police and the brothers is harrowing.

Patriots Day is a story that director Peter Berg and actor/producer Wahlberg believe needs to be told. The surprising element of this very intense, emotional drama is its huge heart. The filmmakers wanted authenticity at all costs.

Michael Beach, who plays Governor Deval Patrick, is convincing, as are John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and Jimmy O. Yang, who plays the heroic carjacked student from China, Dun Meng.

Courage and heroism are in abundance in Patriots Day.

Not yet rated, R ♦ Violence, peril, and language.

Collateral Beauty | CCNS PHOTO/WARNER BROS.

Collateral Beauty

Howard (Will Smith) heads an advertising agency with his friends and colleagues Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet), and Simon (Michael Peña). The film opens with Howard telling the employees of the firm that creating a successful advertising campaign means building on the concepts of love, time, and death. Then we see him some time later—his hair has grayed and he is filled with despair.

He and his wife are separated because their young daughter died. In his loneliness, he writes letters to Love, Time, and Death. Sally (Ann Dowd), the private detective hired by Whit, Claire, and Simon to bring Howard back and save the company, retrieves the letters. The partners then hire actors (Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, and Jacob Latimore) to confront Howard with those letters—and these encounters certainly get his attention.

Will Smith’s heartbreak feels almost too authentic. There is a clever conceit in “the play within a play” structure of this film, but it is entertaining and works as a master class in acting. Collateral Beauty takes its cue from the theory of multiverses and tells us that there is a profound connection to everything.

The message of the film is that love is present, even in death.

A-3, PG-13 ♦ Mature themes.