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.”