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The Silence of the Lambs

#391 - The Silence of the Lambs
Jonathan Demme, 1991

An agent-in-training for the FBI is brought in to interview an incarcerated serial killer in order to try to catch a different serial killer who is still at large.

Reviewing a renowned classic is more than a little difficult - while there's no doubt that everyone has their own individual opinion about a film, how does one express it in any unique manner? In any case, after having watched both Hannibal and Red Dragon earlier this year and found them both wanting, I had been meaning to revisit this for the first time in I-don't-know-how-many years (it has to have been a few years because the last time I saw it I don't remember recognising "Hip Priest" by The Fall playing during the climatic confrontation - man, what a weird choice of music to crop up in a Best Picture winner of all films). It's also not hard to see how much it changed the game for thrillers since its release, which ironically just makes it feel like a slightly above-average thriller in the process. As it stands, I'm ready to consider it the definitive '90s thriller, but that doesn't automatically mean I consider it an especially personal favourite.

The film does have a lot going for it - Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins understandably won Oscars for their roles as a rookie FBI agent and the cannibalistic psychiatrist she needs to interrogate in order to catch a loose murderer (Ted Levine) who skins his female victims. In a film that's scattered with outwardly suspenseful scenes of external action, it is their interactions with one another that stand out the most and are accentuated by cinematography that relies on close-ups and frequent stares into the camera to really leave a mark on audiences. The mind games that Hopkins plays with the other characters are what give this otherwise rote procedural plot some much-needed personality. As such, The Silence of the Lambs is definitely a good movie, but I'm not inclined to think of it as anything than just an all-around great film where the somewhat simple plot is lifted by a great ensemble cast and the addition of an interesting dynamic with a murderous consultant.