Inkoo Kang rails against Silence’s unfortunate undertones:
At my first screening of Silence, George Lucas introduced Martin Scorsese’s new Japan-set spiritual drama at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre by praising it as a film that belongs in the 20th century. Whatever Lucas meant by that, Silence feels far older, even archaic, bemoaning as it does the arduousness of European colonialism. “It’s Hard Out Here for an Imperialist,” the period piece could be subtitled. Or, perhaps: “Sympathy for the White Devil.” That Silence asks its audience to care more about the narcissistic crisis of its Portuguese protagonist than the welfare of the 17th-century Japanese populace is howlingly infuriating and racially insulting.
See also: Jen Yamato’s excellent review.
I agree with many of the issues Jen and Inkoo bring up. I was quite torn about the film myself. You can hear my thoughts on the /Filmcast.