The Silence of the Lambs
Running Time: 118 minutes
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine
Directed By: Jonathon Demme
Rating: 8 out of 10
A FBI cadet is recruited to interview a locked up mass murderer in the attempt to bring down a sadistic and brutal serial killer.
Sometimes a movie can be overshadowed by a single actor’s performance. I am on the fence if this movie would have been better or worse without Anthony Hopkins amazing portrayal of Doctor Lecter. I know that is a weird statement for me to make but I found I was always waiting for Lecter's next scene instead of enjoying this pretty creepy story. The Silence of the Lambs is the story of a young FBI cadet named Clarice Starling. She has been tasked to interview the incarcerated and notorious serial killer Hannibal the Cannibal. She is hoping he will help out with finding an active serial killer called Buffalo Bill who is kidnapping young woman and stripping them of their skin.
So this is a pretty gruesome story but it is done well so that it never seems too far out there. The film starts and we are introduced to a young Clarice Starling as she is recruited by the FBI’s behavioral science unit to interview the Doctor. From there the viewer is treated to a little bit of back story on the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. The movie doesn’t really hit its stride until we are introduced to the man known as Hannibal the Cannibal. Really the movie seals the viewer to the story from the moment Lecter starts to speak. He is a man in the highest security hospital for the criminally insane and yet he exudes malice from his cell. The dialogue between Clarice and Lecter is mesmerizing as they discuss everything from psychology to lifestyle choices. This is where the film falters in my mind though. Because Lecter is such an imposing figure of raw evil that the story gets lost when he is not on screen. Sure the actual serial killer they are following is creepy but he seems normal in comparison to the Doctor. I know that is what they were going for I just felt the story always seemed secondary to Hopkins performance.
Dr. Lecter is played by Anthony Hopkins and it is one of the best performances in Hollywood history. Talk about a brilliant portrayal of a character, you actually feel scared of this man even though this is a movie and he is in a secure cell. His piercing gaze and soft voice make it easy to see that he is capable of such heinous crimes such as murder and cannibalism. Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling the young FBI agent interviewing Lecter and the two of them make the film so sadistically beautiful with their back and forth verbal exchanges. The movie is good but it truly is at its best when Starling and Lecter are conversing and psychoanalyzing each other. Even if you are not a fan of thrillers Hopkins performance alone is worthy of checking out this film. Almost lost in the mix is the serial killer Buffalo Bill played by Ted Levine. His performance is pretty great as a deranged man who kidnaps his victims for pieces of their skin. He is clearly mentally deranged only adding to the urgency of finding him before he kills again.
The film can get brutally violent and gory quite quickly as people suffer some horrible deaths at the hands of this sadistic killer. Also in one of the greatest scenes I have ever forgotten from a movie Clarice Starling actually has the Spiderman sex act done to her (Urban Dictionary it if you are unsure but do so at your own risk.) Sure Buffalo Bill leaves very obscure clues for the FBI and so does Hannibal but that can be forgiven when the rest of the story is so good. There are a few problems with the film though. The cops and SWAT team are very poorly portrayed in this film even laughable in their execution. They handle most of the scenes in an unbelievable and comical fashion detracting from the film. The film also runs a tad too long for my liking (118 minutes). This starts to be felt towards the end as the story does tend to drag. However I am mostly nitpicking as this is a movie most thriller movie seekers won’t want to miss.
It is hard to say that director Jonathon Demme did a great job with this film when Hopkins stole the show. You can say to cast Hopkins was brilliant though. The film has some great scenery especially in Lecter’s glass prison cell. The costuming also brings out maximum effect on the creepy scale. You have Lecter in his signature mask and Buffalo Bill in all his disturbing nudity that will make sleeping hard to do for a while. The story is dark and disturbing (Ted Tally, Thomas Harris) and really this is a crime film you want to see the end to. Besides the cop portrayals this film is spot on and the graphic violence only enhances the films edginess. The director did a good job on a great film.
I give this movie a huge recommendation especially to movie thriller fans who don’t mind a very disturbing storyline.
T Factor + If you like Jodie Foster as an actress this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like disturbing imagery this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Se7en, Frailty.