The Silence of the Lambs ★★★★★

A doctor with an acquired taste for flesh. A psychotic killer with an obsession with creating the ultimate fashion statement. Chopped liver. Chianti. A deadly game of cat and mouse. But who really is the cat, and who is the mouse? And who is the spectator unwittingly drawn into this crazy twisted plot? 

Jonathan Demme's masterful adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs is something I can only describe as the epitome of everything that defines 90's crime fiction to me. Whether a hard boiled Michael Connelly Bosch novel, or a classic episode of Law and Order, this film captures all of the grit, darkness, and forensics that bookmark everything that made this genre in the 90's so distinctive. Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-winning performance as Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter stares into your soul with a piercing, sadistic glare that only Hopkins could have achieved. Not even Michael Mann could make his Hannibal this chilling, and certainly not this memorable. The minute amount of screen time that Hopkins is given is an astounding testament to his acting capabilities. With such a minimally centered performance, he solidifies himself as one of the most essential and iconic villains of the century, if not of all time. 

Howard Shore delivers an intense orchestral soundtrack that sweeps across the film's action and suspense like none other. It doesn't suggest Silence to be a horror film like some may be misled to believe, but rather an intense and spellbinding crime drama that revels in insanity and its intellectual characters. The dialogue between Hannibal and Clarice is practically like an art form, creating a deliberate masterwork that all leads up to a satisfying psychological finale that shouldn't have really indicated to anyone that a sequel was necessary. The ending feels perfect just the way it is. Why continue the story? How can you make the most twisted hunt in cinematic history seem like a lead-up to another film? I mean, it's possible that the sequel isn't terrible, per se, but there's no way anyone could match the perfect display of darkly noirish 90's tones that encompass this entire film. 

Spotlighting three of the most unforgettable performances of the 90's, The Silence of the Lambs is a resounding masterpiece that is undoubtedly one of the greatest landmark achievements of its decade. A perfectly paced crescendo of action and intensity, all just before crashing in on itself in a horrifically satisfying conclusion that feels like an impeccable denouement. Ted Levine's career-defining (and partially destroying, sans Monk) performance is equally unnerving as the cannibalistic tendencies of its most renowned character. Buffalo Bill is an underrated horror character who often gets overshadowed by an admittedly magnificent and towering portrayal. The Silence of the Lambs is a landmark achievement, and one of the greatest crime dramas of all time.

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