Hearing About Silence Walkouts

Yesterday Mike Streeter, a New York-based HE follower, tweeted about “Silence walkouts…ahoy!” It happened, he said, during the first show of the day (11:40 am) at the Regal Union Square 14 — “At least 7 that I counted that didn’t come back.” The mini-exodus began sometime after the halfway mark, he reported.

This morning I noticed a comment about a Silence screening from James Mandell in a Rod Lurie Facebook thread, to wit: “Unbearable. Morose, cruel, relentless, sodden. Had to take a break about two thirds in, stepped outside and found a half-dozen other audience members calculating how much more of the film there was. Was at a SAG/critic screening. By the end, a third of the theater (the crowd was at capacity when it began) was empty.”

Has anyone else noticed this? I ask this question not to bury the film (a trying but highly respectable effort), but simply in hopes of determining how widespread, if at all, the walkout syndrome might be.

I’ve seen and reviewed Silence, of course. It’s a bear to sit through, for sure, but I felt curiously touched at the end, as if a tiny candle inside my chest has been lighted by a thought. Here’s how I explained it on 12.10:

“Nonetheless, Silence has a spiritual pollen that floats into you. I felt no allegiance with [Andrew] Garfield’s Sebastiao Rodrigues, who not only suffers for his stubbornness but causes many others to suffer. But something curious and strange happens toward the end — the last 20 or 30 minutes — that really got me.

“Rodrigues finally relents at the end, and when he does you’re thinking ‘thank God.’ But when he submits (and this a weird thing for me to admit) there’s a certain specific energy that drains out of him — a certain light or feeling or vibe.

“Crazy and oppressive as it may be to carry the Christian cross, we’re reminded at the end that there’s something essential about keeping your spiritual fire burning. If you become too practical and accommodating and accepting, something is lost.”

  • There were walkouts ahoy during WOLF, too…Christmas Day, man…lot of old duffers getting a big, unpleasant surprise if they thought they were in for some Horatio Alger tale. When Jonah Hill whipped it out, about half a dozen people headed for the hills and the theatre just died when Leo slugged Margot Robbie.

    I have no idea how the hell that movie was a hit though I’m certainly glad it was.

  • Chris Willman

    No walkouts at my 10:45 ArcLight show last night… but then, there were only about 25 people in the audience. It looked like the 8:00 was nearly full, looking at seating charts earlier… but this is not going to break any arthouse records during Christmas week. It was funny–at the end, one person started to applaud, then, realizing that he was along, quickly cut himself short. I can usually get a vibe from an audience on whether they’re with something, but this one was too small to tell.

  • Glenn Kenny

    “I ask this question not to bury the film…”

    To quote your idol J.J. Hunsecker, “Don’t kid a kidder.”

    • Dr. New Jersey

      Or as Dean Jagger said to Bing Crosby (in the Spirit of the Season).

    • You don’t read, you don’t listen, you just want to swipe at me. Like everyone else on the planet I found Silence challenging — don’t lie and say you didn’t find it to be a grind. But I’ve been clear in saying that it’s not without merit, particularly during the last 20 or 30 minutes. I liked it five times better than I did Kundun.


      • Glenn Kenny

        I didn’t find it a grind. At all.

        • YCo

          Well, you kind of started it didn’t you? I mean, you pop in to snark, that’s it.
          I find it fascinating.

      • Aaron

        I’ll agree Kundun is not perfect (the use of non-actors has an honesty to it that suffers within the artificial constraints of narrative cinema). That said, it’s one of his most fascinating films. Visually, musically, the editing style. What western director would take the philosophical ideas of Tibetan Buddhism and try to weave them visually and musically into a narrative (and not end up with the artifice that a director like Ken Russell would make)? The result is bold filmmaking. I think the film that benefitted the most from his experiments is The Aviator. He seemed to learn how to compress cinematic time better through the course of making Kundun.

    • bentrane

      You’re a troll. Not contributing anything to this site.

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      • Dr. New Jersey

        Apparently the five people who upticked his remark disagree.

      • Glenn Kenny

        “Contributing,” funny

        • YCo

          You’re so funny..

      • Grampappy Amos

        Correct. But he’s” HE’s own” troll

  • arisp

    Let these simpletons enjoy their Transformer movies. Or their 90 minute Woody Allen cookie cutter offerings. If anybody walks out of a movie about Jesuits in Japan in the 1600s, it’s bc they’re ignorant idiots. What were they expecting?

    • Buddy. Leave the Woodman out of this.

      • York Durden

        I finally caught up with Irrational Man. Other than not sticking the landing, I really enjoyed it. Great looking movie, literate dialogue, Emma Stone looking as fetching as human females can look.

  • SJR

    I don’t see many dramas at Regal 14, I try not to see any movies there If I can help it, that theater has cell phone problems and the red EXIT sign is bright as HELL. Someone once broke out an iPad during a Hunger Games screening.

    As far as SILENCE, I feel like every Scorsese movie I’ve seen in a theater has had walkouts, maybe HUGO didn’t.

    • Patrick Murtha

      Any movie that is at all challenging is going to have walkouts, even at art houses, even at festivals.

      • YCo

        This. Uncompromising films will always polarize mainstream audiences. That’s a selling point for me.

    • SaulPaul

      I drive myself nuts trying to figure out the best theaters to go to in NYC. Which are the best in your opinion?

      • SJR

        BAM Rose
        Angelika Film Center
        AMC Lincoln 13
        IFC Center (very small screen and seating area, but almost no crowd problems)

        • Angelila? With the subway rumbling underneath?

          • SJR

            I only notice the rumbling in the lobby, maybe sometimes going down the escalator.

      • streeter

        Regal Battery Park and AMC Kips Bay. Both quiet most of the time, and both now have those recliner chairs.
        Unfortunately most limited releases start at AMC Lincoln Square and Union Square. Lincoln Square has some good rooms and some uncomfortably bad, but you can see the seating charts online. Union Square has mostly decent rooms. Personally I avoid theaters on Friday and Saturday nights so I can’t advise too much on the crowds at those times, but during the week they’re alright.

  • Martin Foyle

    Cosmopolis all over again, 10 walkouts at the art cinema I saw it at, heard about a near stampede at a suburban cineplex. I’ll be mindful of what cinema I see Silence at.

    • Patrick Murtha

      Suburban multiplexes are just this side of Trump rallies.

  • MovieAwardsPlus

    If I pay to see a film, I am in it for the long haul. I have an idea of I am getting into before I go.

  • Tom

    Seems like the opposite of soul cancer to me. Imagine if Bresson or dreyer were trying to make films today. Scorsese’s one of the past great screen poets. I’ll follow him anywhere. This is must see Christmas day viewing in the wake of the trump nightmare.

  • bentrane

    I’ve read the book. My guess is the film makes ‘Manchester by the Sea’ look like a Preston Sturges comedy.

  • streeter

    What’s also kinda depressing is that, in NY at least, Silence isn’t even playing in any nice auditoriums. At the Union Square 14 screening I was at, it was playing in one of their standard rooms. (And while decently attended, those 7+ walkouts represented more than 10% of the audience)
    The other theater playing it here is the AMC Lincoln Square, where it’s playing one of their shoeboxes. It’s a tough movie, but it’s beautiful and I wish it had been playing at that Lincoln square big screen Atmos theater with the balcony (I always forget the name, since they don’t use numbers there). Or the Union Square balcony auditorium. But Star Wars has taken all the nice screens.
    BTW Live By Night is also shoeboxed at Lincoln Square this week. The joys of reserved seating: you get to see which movies get the “royal treatment”

    • AstroLass

      I was at AMC Union Square’s showing on Thursday at 7p. Room — not a large one — was filled to capacity. You could hear a pin drop. No one left. Got there 6:30, early comers were already planted.

  • Michael Gebert

    The most walkouts I’ve seen at anything in recent years was Inherent Vice. That’s where I shake my head and go, what did you come to this for if not for exactly what it always said it was?

    • cyanic

      Do you remember where in the movie people started leaving?

      • Michael Gebert

        Not really, though I don’t think it was prompted by any one thing– just, yeah, it’s ALL going to be like this.

  • Brad

    The softening of the minds has progressed along with rapidly