Film review: The Silence of the Lambs (1991), directed by Jonathan Demme
Young FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is tasked by Jack Crawford (Scott Glen) to interview serial killer Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), as he might be able to offer some insight into a serial killer (Ted Levine) who kills and skins women. Lecter might be brilliant, but he’s also highly dangerous as he, eh-hrm, likes to serve his fellow man.
At a hospital, Dr Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) shows Clarice to the ward for the criminally insane. He warns her to beware and not get too close to Lecter’s cell, or he might just decide to kill her. Is the well-spoken older gentleman locked up in a cell really that dangerous?
When you’re trying to catch a serial killer by enlisting the help of another serial killer, one that’s a highly intelligent former psychiatrist hell-bent on not staying locked up forever, you soon have a Situation on your hands – and time is running out for the latest missing woman (Catherine Martin).
Coming in at a respectable 24th place on the IMDb Top 250, The Silence of the Lambs is indeed a very good film. It’s intriguing, creepy, keeps you guessing and at the edge of your seat. Well, more or less. I wasn’t exactly biting my nails watching it, but I did enjoy it.
That Lecter, beautifully played by Anthony Hopkins (got an Oscar), is a cannibal is something that is unsettling just in itself. Serial killer? Meh. Cannibal? Eww, gross. The one they’re hunting, nicknamed “Buffalo Bill”, is even creepier. Yes, okay, the whole cannibalism and all that is pretty darn creepy, but Lecter is still a bit civilised, as it were. Buffalo Bill … well …
Foster won an Oscar for her performance, and I think she deserved it. Clarice might be a rookie and because Foster is very petite, you’d think she’d not be up for the job as a big, tough FBI agent, but she is, and proves herself very worthy. There was a bit where I questioned her jumping in head first into a situation without having backup nearby, but someone explained it with her wanting to prove herself capable (as she struggles throughout the film with being a woman doing “a man’s job”). Still a foolish thing to do.
The Silence of the Lambs is the sort of film that stays with you, in a way. It’s one of the films you watch and you remember having watched it, and the title of it, unlike so many other films. It’s not the most awesome film ever in my opinion, but that’s because I prefer them a little more lighthearted than this, and this is the opposite of that.
4 out of 5 straightjackets.