In this multiple Oscar-winning thriller, Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Her usually skillful and shrewd analyses of serial killers is challenged by her next subject, brilliant psychiatrist and violent psychopath cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
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Revisiting this for the first time since my teens, I had two realizations. First, that it's not as serious-minded as I remember—in fact, in its shameless goosing, cartoonish villainy, and sexual subtext, its heart is the sort of smart B-movie prized by Roger Corman (who gets a cameo). Second, that that makes me like it just as much—if craft can convince the Academy that a cheeky thriller is prestigious, god bless.
The psychological tension between Foster and Hopkins are easily its royal flush, as it's these masterful scenes of them sparring that glue the procedural and gothic horror elements together that alone don't have as much dramatic or emotional depth. Manhunter knew when to pull back for characterization, Silence never quite does. It still has some obvious if tense scenes, but at times it's overdrawn (Lecter's escape.)
Thomas Harris' novel may have been a gripping procedural and thriller; but for screenwriter Ted Tally and director Jonathan Demme, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is the chance to luxuriate in gothic horror, feminism and political satire ('something's wrong with America'). While Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and Ted Levine are all on fire, this carefully constructed genre film has far too many moving parts. Solid but overrated.
Anthony Hopkins's portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is one of the all-time great performances in cinema history. The night-vision scene in Buffalo Bill's basement scared the hell out of me when I was younger.
Expertly crafted thriller that falls somewhere between crime procedural and psychological horror. Masterful performances all around, beautifully restrained cinematography - a severely haunting experience.
Foster excels as the agent, but it is Hopkins who forms the soul of "TSotL". Lecter, with blood smeared over his face forming the smile of a clown, is a likeable psycho we want to succeed. He is the trapped, debonair elan of a lost, polymath European elegance, frustrated by the numbskulls and procedures of the modern world.
There is so much to like. Beginning with an intelligent script all the way through the performances and direction. The photography is stunning. I never imagined breaking the fourth wall could work so well when done so often, and it does not even break the illusion. Its inclusion of gender politics only augments the realism. It makes us question ourselves, and that is, I suppose, the ultimate goal of cinema and art.