Nothing else like it. So this is about FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who gets brought onto an open murder case for Buffalo Bill, a serial killer that skins his victims alive. Using the logic “it takes one to catch one,” she has to work with the incarcerated Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a highly intelligent and manipulative cannibal psychopath. It has been said before me, and it will be said after me: this is a brilliant film. Every single element about this is outstanding, and as far as detective movies go, this is the best, bar none.
This won the Oscar uncommon “Big Five” for picture, writing, directing, and both lead acting fields, a feat that has only been accomplished a grand total of three times throughout history, which is a testament to how stupendous this is. It’s a movie that affects you on a psychological level, and it is captivating to say the very least. This is over twenty years old now, and the biggest thing people talk about this is Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lecter. He has less than 25 minutes of screentime, which is abbreviated, but he leaves an impression, and he is so memorable that you probably mistakenly remember him as being onscreen for longer than he actually is. He is scary, intelligent, and whenever he is onscreen, you cannot remove your eyes from him, his performance is that good. He’s matched with an equally committed work of Jodie Foster, and the cat in this story just wouldn’t be the same without his mouse. Also, I know that Hopkins gets the lion’s share of the credit and rightfully so, but the person who gets the short end of the stick is Ted Levine; if he was in any different movie, everybody would have been talking about how excellent he is. That is what an enigma this film is, you have somebody give an Oscar worthy performance, and he ends up getting overshadowed by more noteworthy role.
This is a story that is the darkest shade of black. The sordid story really affects you on a psychological level, and if you watch this at too young of an age, it will mess you up. There is no better detective movie out here, and before there was Se7en, there was The Silence of the Lambs. It is captivating, well-paced, and the quintessential detective movie that I don’t think ever will be outdone.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) *****
– Critic for Hire