elise’s review published on Letterboxd:
a fantastic, two-hour-long, gorgeously filmed power play between two powerhouse actors, with a quality feminist narrative underlying it all. but also some very very weird transphobia in there which I don't like or trust.
Jodie Foster is... fucking awesome in this movie. her character is not even graduated from the FBI, and we get that, and Hannibal gets that. but she is also a powerhouse in her own way; she is smart, clever, unafraid to be manipulative and toy with people when she needs to, and unapologetic about her actions. her delivery of that lamb speech is freaking fantastic, and she is SO compelling, in every moment.
Anthony Hopkins is incredibly memorable and interesting in his role, as well, and it's truly amazing how he makes you root for him, just a little. we know from the beginning that he's an evil, awful person, but we're almost hoping he'll come back and engage within the narrative because he's so intriguing on screen.
I also think the cinematography of this film is just glorious. some shots are so well-tuned to be creepy that it's impossible not to feel the fear of other characters. and the way the camera does their power play is!!! fucking glorious i l o v e it.
oh, and it's so amazing how much agency Clarice has within this movie. she is the lead and she takes up that space in a way many female characters don't. the camera does such a good job of subtly capturing how Clarice feels under the male gaze of her colleagues, without subjecting her to that gaze herself, which is a balance that filmmakers of today seem to have a very hard time striking.
I will note, though, that it is REALLY transphobic. next bit has a spoiler warning, but I knew about this before and I think it actually made me hate it less: the serial killer is trying to make a "woman suit" and though the movie is soooooooo kind to point out that the serial killer isn't trans, just trying to change himself because of "trauma" [yup] and "transvestites are kind, mellow people" [i mean, granted, this is said by another serial killer] it's still really... not the implication i would have gone with for my feature length horror film. also, the implication is that true trans people have no trauma in their backgrounds!
1991 was truly a time. I was warned about this beforehand and it made me hate it less.