I’m a movie snob. I may as well admit that up front. So when I heard there was a documentary of life at a monastery, I was all over it. I usually love the esoteric or offbeat films that make people go, “Huh?”
I so wanted to love “Into Great Silence.” But it lived up to its name in that it was akin to watching a silent film without the antics. Monks strode about in robes, the silence broken only when they sang hymns together—and on the blessed Sunday when the fathers could leave the grounds on a walk and actually talk. Oh, talking! But that was 5 minutes of the film. The other 2 hours and 40 minutes were a true test of patience. At one point I got so antsy I had to fast-forward through a few scenes, and you know, you could hardly tell the difference in the speeded up version.
I will say there were some beautiful shots of the grounds and mountains thanks to time-lapse photography and plenty of frames that lingered on light—the slant of sunlight on the wood floor or a dust particles illuminated in a sunbeam. But there’s only so much lingering a person can take.
Still, I’d watch silent monks over mainstream Hollywood any day of the week.