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Review: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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The Silence of the Lambs had a lot of hype surrounding it, before I watched it two decades after its initial release. It has won countless awards including numerous Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTA’S. It is in the AFI’s top 100 Films list, top 100 quotes list. Even the original movie poster was named best movie poster in the past 35 years at the Key Art Awards. So needless to say, I was pretty sure I would be terrified while watching.

Sure enough, The Silence is still holding up in today’s desensitized world. The first half is chilling and creepy enough. Throw in a disturbing spine-tingling finale, and you have yourself quite the thriller, by any standard. I’ve never been a huge fan of scary movies, so of course, I throw myself into one of the most thrilling movies of all time.

The movie is really a two person act. Yes, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), and Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) all have major roles, but the basic dynamic of Silence is that of FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and renowned psychiatrist/ serial killer/ cannibal, Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins). The performance by Hopkins alone is enough to make this one of the greatest movies of all time. He isn’t physically threatening and at first impressions he seems quite polite. But as the movie goes on, his words become more sinister, even when speaking of beans. He could honestly ask for my order at a drive-thru and I would be terrified my burger would be poisoned. He simply has that sort of effect on you.

On the other side of the glass is Jodie Foster playing Clarice, a still in-training FBI officer, who is chosen to attempt to retrieve information from Dr. Lector. As viewers, we frequently are put in Clarice’s point-of-view, which only furthers our relationship with Hannibal. Her performance is spot-on, as she balances her bravery with her paralyzing fear. Quite a delicate performance was required, and she was obviously up for it.

Grade: A



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