Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine

Year: 1991

One of the most iconic movies and featuring one of the most iconic movie characters in the history of cinema, Silence of the Lambs remains a thoroughly excellent film even more than 30 years later, a real example of how to make something lasting and something strong.  Demme not only keeps us guessing, but he keeps it simple at the same time, giving up easy pieces to pick up and examine, easy characters to love, hate, and be fascinated by.  I don’t mean to say making the movie was easy, rather than Demme made it look effortless, and didn’t overwork the material.  The result; one of the most famous films of all time.

Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, a part of a trilogy about serial killers, the mad genius who understood them, and the government agents set on capturing them, Silence of the Lambs is a story of tricky simplicity and daring detective work.  A serial murderer, nicknamed Buffalo Bill, has killed & skinned multiple young women, and the nightmare continues.  In order to get into his head to solve the crime, a young FBI agent named Clarice Starling is sent to interview the captured doctor Hannibal Lecter, Hannibal the Cannibal, who is never very cooperative but just might fall for talking to a pretty woman who respects his mind.  The two become something resembling twisted  friends, with Dr. Lecter leading Clarice slowly toward the killer, while his next victim inches slowly toward her death.

I hope I’m being clear about why this movie works so well; it’s so simple.  And, again, not in an accidental way, but in an ingenious way that allows audiences to follow along mouth slack, while the tale unfolds and the action is resolved.  Demme didn’t over-knead the dough here, he let the story be the story, he let the actors be the actors, and we are rewarded with iconic performances from Foster and Hopkins, and a film that’s basically flawless.  It’s engaging, it’s smart, it’s gruesome, it’s thrilling; these are the things we want from cinema, and Silence of the Lambs delivers them with seeming ease.  Red Dragon is good as well, both the book and the film, Hannibal isn’t worth your time, either version, but Silence of the Lambs is the one that will be remembered as something dangerous, special, and grand.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils