Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

As we watch The Silence of the Lambs, we fondly remember a distant time when Hollywood was less pusillanimous with its films. If you watch this thriller, you'll watch it for the connection between Hannibal and Clarice. After all, this connection couldn't have been played in a better way.

In the Midwest, a mysterious killer named Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) skins women and the FBI is after him. In order to catch Buffalo Bill, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), the head of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, assigns a task to Clarice Sterling (Jodie Foster), a young FBI trainee. Her job is to interrogate Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a cannibalistic serial killer who was once a respected psychiatrist.

Besides, Lecter is so feared that instead of being behind bars, he's imprisoned at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane behind thick glass panels and windowless stonewalls. Through Clarice's interrogation, the FBI wants Lecter to enlighten it Buffalo Bill's psyche and lead it to him. Moreover, Hannibal Lecter will give away informations for Clarice only if she accepts to feed his morbid curiosity about her childhood. However, Clarice was instructed not to play a quid pro quo game with Lecter, because as Crawford said it, "you don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head".

For a thriller, The Silence of the Lambs doesn't necessarily captivate with the FBI's attempt to find Buffalo Bill. This means that since we can expect the FBI to catch him, the investigation becomes a minor and generic detail. However, Jonathan Demme's solid direction gives just enough suspense to the story.

In reality, The Silence of the Lambs sustains our interest because of what the exchanges between Clarice Sterling and Hannibal Lecter reveal about both of them.

As Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins plays a one-dimensional character who is in madness mode from the beginning to the end. Nevertheless, Hopkins manage to make his character be fascinating with his creepiness. Furthermore, Lecter is a memorable character because he completes Clarice and is the point of entry to Clarice's fragility. As we're introduced, at the beginning, to an unshakable Clarice played by Jodie Foster, her emerging fears become, in exchange, our point of entry to the world of insanity and pure evil. All in all, Foster's and Hopkins' performance don't feel overacted or ludicrous.

Finally, in all fairness, The Silence of the Lambs is a rather well constructed film. However, the since the part regarding the search for Buffalo Bill is your usual cat and mouse game, you watch this film just to see the legendary performance by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins (not to mention the supporting cast). After all, without the connection between Clarice and Hannibal, the film wouldn't be worth watching.

Rating: 4.5/5

Origin:USA (1991)
Length:118 minutes
Screenplay:Ted Tally
Director:Jonathan Demme
Starring:Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and Scott Glenn

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