Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Film Review: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs (Review)
United States/1991
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...the psychological aspects of the film are superb."

Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is training at the FBI Academy when she is asked to interview the brilliant, cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins). The goal: use Lector's deep knowledge and insight to capture Buffalo Bill -- a serial killer who skin's his female victims' corpses.

The Silence of the Lambs is a crime thriller with deep horror and psychological elements. The story itself revolves around Starling's investigation, as well as her newfound relationship with Hannibal Lector. The investigation leads Starling and her peers into a tense manhunt for Buffalo Bill -- a manhunt that escalates after Buffalo Bill kidnaps a senator's daughter. There are a few surprises that keep the film moving, not so shocking or unexpected, though; in fact, some don't seem all that plausible, but I digress. The ending is dark, I loved the buildup before, and the tension during the final sequence.

The investigation is interesting and engaging, but lacks some momentum; it often works off of a slow-burn, but that is absent during some sequences. The conversations between Starling and Lector are immersive -- deep, psychological, and effective conversations that send chills down your spine. Most of the dialogue works well in creating the "chilling" mood -- the dialogue works well in creating petrifying visuals. The visuals of graphic violence is unforgettably realistic and haunting. In fact, there are many scenes that work well off their chilling subject-matter and buildup; I won't spoil them, however, as some may come as a surprise.

Jodie Foster is good as Starling. However, Foster, in my opinion, lacks the strong screen presence and southern charisma needed for this lead character. This is particularly somewhat an issue as she is constantly, and easily, outperformed by Anthony Hopkins -- who delivers a sinisterly haunting and unforgettable performance, despite his limited screen time. The music is fantastic in creating the right mood and atmosphere for the film. The special effects and makeup are perfect and deliver incredibly disturbing moments. Jonathan Demme direction is great.

Overall, The Silence of the Lambs is an incredibly effective and well-rounded crime thriller; the psychological aspects of the film are superb. However, a less than charismatic lead, a few implausible moments (in a film mostly reliant on realism), and a lack of momentum make this film fall short. Widely regarded as a masterpiece, Silence of the Lambs doesn't reach that standard in my opinion, but it is great and worth watching, nonetheless.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, disturbing visuals and partial nudity.

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