Martin Scorsese's latest project is a tough beast to conquer. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, it is a harrowing tale of oppression and brutality that doesn't shy away from scenes of shocking violence and disturbing torture. The film follows two Jesuit priests, Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), as they travel from Portugal to Japan in the hopes of rescuing fellow priest Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) from the Japanese rulers and their anti-Catholic regime. 

Driver and Garfield are well cast in their respective roles, this being a pivotal film for them, particularly the latter, to prove their ability in such demanding roles. Though Garfield's accent wavers in opening scenes and his reactions feel a little overplayed at times, it is very clear how much both put into their performances and they capture well the powerful devotion of the priests. While Driver has already displayed his talent through a number of excellent performances, most recently in the charming Paterson, it was a pleasant surprise to see Garfield more than hold his own in such a tough role. It is surprising to see a number of critics dismissing his performance. 

Silence is a beautifully shot piece, with the eerie quiet of the deserted Japanese villages and the ghostly mists of the ocean playing a key role in bringing to life the havoc and destruction inflicted on the native Catholics. There is an overwhelmingly tense mood throughout, which is created without the use of an overbearing soundtrack or an over dramatic script (in fact, dialogue is pretty sparse on the whole). A number of powerful, intense scenes make for a brutal, chilling experience, with unflinching depictions of mass-torture and interrogation capturing a very raw and honest image of oppression and savagery. 

Sadly, Silence overstays its welcome in a major way. Awkward pacing leads to a rather dragged out ending and a number of slow patches midway through the film, which will push the patience of even the most devoted Scorsese fan. Perhaps up to an hour of footage could have been cut without the story or impact of the film being lost; if it had been somewhere closer to an hour and a half or even two hours at a push, it would have been much better for it. It is very clear from the length that this is a passion project for Scorsese, with the film being in development since 1990 and the director having previously directed the controversial "Last Temptation of Christ," another strongly religious piece. It almost feels as though this is the director's cut, and that Scorsese overrode a shorter, cut-down version (after all, who would dare argue with him). 

Silence doesn't deserve to win any accolades in this awards season. But that doesn't mean it isn't a powerful experience that revolves around two impressive performances and a series of riveting, deeply disturbing scenes. It's just a shame it's so damn long.