The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs ★★★★½

Few films had the impact that Jonathan Demme's adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel The Silence of the Lambs. Critically praised, a box office sensation, and then sweeping up the major awards at the Oscars saw this psychological thriller rightly regarded as one of the best of the nineties. It also provided Sir Anthony Hopkins with arguably his most iconic screen character, one he'd revisit in both a prequel and a sequel.
Hunting a serial killer has never been so much fun. Demme's film scared the shit out of me the first time I seen it in the theatre. Scared me the second time too, but it also made me appreciate just how good it really was. Jodie Foster's fledgling FBI Agent is the glue in this film which sees her sent to interview a notorious incarcerated serial killer in the vain hope of finding a Senator's daughter kidnapped by another serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill. Foster's agent Starling enters into a game of cat and mouse with Doctor Lecter during attempts to gain information, it's playful but compelling. Tension is built, the hunt twisting and turning as Lecter toys with the authorities and the FBI, before getting inside Starling's head. Hopkins is utterly mesmerising here, chilling and charming in equal measure, with a glint in his eye that makes your blood run cold. He's a perfectly normal sociopathic, cannibalistic serial killer, but pales into insignificance compared to Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill who scared me even when he wasn't tucking his cock between his legs and shouting "put the fucking lotion in the basket". The 118 minute running time flies past with barely a chance to draw breath, and those last twenty minutes are among the most taut and tension filled I've ever had to sit through. Foster rocks, Levine terrifies, and Hopkins lapped up the real plaudits with limited screen time which has since been lampooned to death in the last twenty-five years. Not many films have eclipsed what Demme made here, and as the years go by a new generation of viewers will bare witness to its power.

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