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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Silence of the Lambs Review

The Silence of the Lambs Review
1991, 118 minutes, Rated R

Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, and Ted Levine star in this Best Picture-winning film by Jonathan Demme. The Silence of the Lambs follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Foster, Oscar-winner) as she tracks down "Buffalo Bill," a serial killer who kills women and subsequently skins them.  She consults the imprisoned cannibalistic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins, Oscar-winner) on the case and they play intense mind games with each other.  Hopkins' performance is one for the ages.  He plays Lecter with a frightening tranquility and a stare that will make even the most hardened people shiver.  Lecter is a genius in his own right, but a mad one.  Starling is also played with intensity by Foster who gives the character many dimensions, many of which are displayed during the conversations with Dr. Lecter.  
This film is considered by the AFI,, and the Academy Awards to be one of the finest films ever made.  I would disagree.  This film is not a bad film by anyone's standards, but it is not as good as it is made out to be largely due to a very conventional story, a lack of thrills, and an anti-climactic climax.  This film is known to be a pulse-pounding thriller, but it only has a few actual thrills.  One of these is a scene involving Lecter towards the last third of the film (I won't give away the scene because it is one that you should experience for yourself).  That scene is exhilarating due to fast action and many twists.  Hopkins' eerily calm appearance makes this scene fantastic and the unpredictability of Lecter's actions keeps the action interesting.  The story and climax are weak spots in the film.  Though this film set standards for serial killer films, the story has few twists.  The ending is very predictable and I was waiting for a Se7en-esque twist or any twist for that matter.  But, alas, none came and the film ended without a bang (no pun intended).  Though one of the now-famous lines from the end is very clever, the story just wimps out and that part is not enough to make up for the rest.  One great thing about the film, though, is that the atmosphere is just right throughout.  It is dark, mysterious, and creepy.  Overall, The Silence of the Lambs is not the masterpiece that it is cracked up to be, but it sure is a very good movie due to excellent performances and some very suspenseful moments.

-Joshua Handler

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