Every Friday, our film critic Grace Kinsey will review a new release at the cinema. This week, she gives her verdict on Silence.

Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield play two 17th Century Jesuit priests (Father Garupe and Father Rodrigues respectively) who travel to an anti-Catholic Japan in search of their mentor (Liam Neeson) who is said to have apostatised.

I did not quite realise what I was letting myself in for when I bought a ticket to see Scorsese's latest film, but two hours in I was feeling rather challenged, and rightly had a strong feeling there were challenges yet to come.

But let me be clear that, unless fun is what you are after, I am not trying to dissuade any potential viewers. On the contrary I would recommend a trip to the cinema to see Silence. The literary, visual and spiritual challenges Scorsese presents combine to create an intense and thought-provoking saga.

Perhaps the epic nature of Silence is not surprising given Scorsese's filmography, which includes serious works such as Raging Bull and Goodfellas; but what is remarkable about his most recent project is the control he has over the audience.

Firstly, it is easy to become enthralled by the film, despite the slow pace. This is thanks to an unrelenting sense of claustrophobia: whether by trees, water or cell bars, the protagonists constantly find themselves surrounded –  trapped. Furthermore the intimacy of the characters' interactions and exchanges, emphasised by noticeably close camera work, seem to firmly place the audience in the dialogue.

Secondly, just as God is omnipotent, Scorsese's power as director does not end at captivating the audience; and just as God through his absence has an enormous presence in Silence (the title referring to God's refusal to answer any prayers), so does Scorsese.

The key to this achievement lies in the film's rejection of  faith in and as a result of language. Silence shows communication through words to be totally unreliable, open to many interpretations. This means words cannot be 'truth' because truth, as Father Rodrigues believes, is universal. He also believes that faith is truth. Therefore, we can place no faith in words.

When we consider that the story is narrated through letters, the subjective nature of language becomes problematic for the viewers as well as the characters: can we trust in our interpretation of what we are hearing?

On top of that, Silence is based on a book, and one that has been translated from another language. Within Scorsese's adaptation there many textual layers, and the audience begins to doubt every one of them. We usually place a mindless faith in a director to tell a story – it is his story after all – but this faith is now challenged, and we are offered no answers. Similarly the priests in Silence wait for answers from God, but they never come.

In short, we are to the priests what Scorsese is to God; and Scorsese has used his power to make us truly feel what his characters feel to such an extent that I have never felt before.