I don’t remember the last time I saw The Silence of the Lambs, but after finishing the book and watching the movie again, it really made it shine in an entirely new light and it was like I was seeing it for the first time. It might play a little loose with the book’s story, bypassing or removing sections entirely, but overall, it delivers home the same, thrilling and mesmerizing experience. Read on for a tasty review and don’t forget your fava beans…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
Like I said above, the movie does for the most part follow the book closely. It rearranges a few scenes, or remixes others. Sometimes it will even exclude sections of the book, much to my dismay. However, all that doesn’t matter come the end, as the movie does such a superb job doing everything else right.
It follows the same concept of the book, with Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster) being recruited by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) to interview Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). While interviewing Lecter, he teases her with information about Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), the sadistic killer who is skinning woman and wearing their skins as a suit. Clarice takes this information and helps Crawford try to find Buffalo Bill before it’s too late, as Buffalo Bill has just struck recently and kidnapped a senator’s daughter.
I need to express how much love I have towards Anthony Hopkins performance as Hannibal Lecter. The moment you first see him standing in his cell, with a slight smile on his face, you know you’re in for a delicious treat. He is so damn creepy and terrifying, stealing every single minute he is on the screen. Hopkins grabs the character of Lecter off the pages of the book perfectly. Bravo Hopkins, bravo!
Lecter isn’t the only character that is portrayed wonderfully. Jodie Foster does a fantastic job as Clarice Starling. She sells you on the rookie trainee, caught in a man’s world, just trying to make it big and help catch this crazy Buffalo Bill. I was a little disappointed that the storyline of Clarice worrying about getting kicked out of school was dropped for the movie, as I would’ve liked to see Clarice juggling more with everything and having that ever present fear of being kicked back down the ladder, to start all over again. Still, Jodie Foster did an amazing job and it’s shame she didn’t stay on for the next movie.
Much like the book, Buffalo Bill is a side character and is barely present and much like I said for my review of The Silence of the Lambs book, I would’ve loved to see more of him. Ted Levine sells the role. He has some wonderful scenes that will make your skin crawl and who can forget about putting the lotion in the basket. However, we get even less back story on Buffalo Bill in the movie and honestly, this is probably the weakest part. We know nothing of him and besides the few bits of information dropped by Lecter, we never really find anything more out.
I adored Jonathan Demme’s sly technique of the character talking into the camera. It was a wonderful concept, that allowed you the viewer to enter Clarice’s head, which is perfect, as the book has you constantly inside her head. This method also delivers several creeptastic scenes, where Lecter is looking straight at the camera and it feels like, he is burrowing into your mind.
What more can be said for a movie that won Best Picture of the Year, along with four other Academy Awards? It’s a taught, tense and thrilling journey through the mind of a psychopath and the struggles of an innocent woman, who get’s roped up in a psychological game to find a killer in time and keep her sanity. It doesn’t fully reach the wonderful heights of the book, as it bypasses or skips a little too much, but Anthony Hopkins’ amazing and skin crawling performance, along with several other stellar performances, make the score soar just as high. The lambs may be silent now, but I’m still screaming for more!