Not often does a single film manage to deliver such high quality in a wide range of film-making elements. This film does just that and perfectly tells a dark and grisly tale making Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter an unforgettable villain in Hollywood history, and this film an all-time classic.
Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ directed by Jonathan Demme and still regarded in my opinion as one of the best psychological-thrillers ever made. The film stars; Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Ted Levine, and Scott Glenn.
A vicious serial-killer who skins his victims has been given the moniker of “Buffalo Bill” (Levine) and is showing no signs of slowing down. A young FBI agent (Foster) will be pulled from Quantico and thrust onto the case with very little experience. To have a better chance of catching this killer she will have to consult with and confide in a highly intelligent and extremely psychopathic, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) in prison. The young agent will have to weave through Lecter’s mental manipulation to find clues that will lead her closer to catching the killer.
To this day “The Silence of the Lambs” is still considered one of the most memorable roles of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s illustrious careers. It is well earned because in my opinion the strongest part of the film, the parts that make this film great, is the chemistry between the two characters in their scenes together. Their time conversing down in the cell that Lecter was imprisoned is captivating acting, writing, and camera work. Added with the excellent performances was a well written story, great backdrops, score, lighting and pace.
Anthony Hopkins is so strong in the role as the intelligent and grisly Dr. Lecter that despite having already seen the film or not, you still hang on his every word and mannerism while he is onscreen. His elegance and calculation make him a more feared antagonist than the most outright violent ones we have seen in films. Jodie Foster is equally as impressive as the young FBI cadet fresh out of training and thrust into a major case. You can see her grow more confident as an agent as she progresses with her interactions with Dr. Lecter, as well as the pursuit of Buffalo Bill.
A film to many is only as great as the villain and in the case of this film there are two excellent ones. Ted Levine as the serial-killer Buffalo Bill was perfect in the role and brought a deeply demented and maniacal persona to his portrayal. Even without the amazing performances by the cast, this was a well written film that held a perfect pace to tell a well structured story-line with just enough additions of minor subplots to add some depth.
The scenes wove seamlessly from the main theme to the minor subplots and never seemed jumbled. From beginning-to-end the story captures your attention and keeps you intrigued. The script is excellent and manages to deliver some intellectually witty dialogue with many clever undertones without the slightest feeling of overdoing it or being hard to understand.
One thing that this film had that many other of the genre often do not, was a conceivable and still intricate case to revolve the story around. Too many times in similar movies do you see the case suddenly solving itself or a character randomly re-checking an old piece of evidence and conveniently wrapping up the case just in time for the end-credits to roll.
As Foster’s character progresses in the case and continues to consult with Dr. Lecter the writers were able to wrap the case up in believable fashion with a mix of good old-fashioned police work. There is enough character background to develop a connection by the end of the first-act so that the actual plot sequences involving Buffalo Bill could proceed in the second and third with great detail.
Once again, great performances, great storytelling with dark, dreary backdrops and an ominous underlying musical-score that managed to draw on your intensity at all the right moments, are what make this film excellent. No matter how many times you see this one it still holds its entertainment value and to this day the climactic third-act it still in my opinion some of the purest of cinematic moments. To anyone who hasn’t seen it, go do so, you will be delighted and a little disturbed.
Time: 118 min
MPAA Rating: R