The Silence of the Lambs (1991) / Thriller-Mystery
MPAA Rated: R for strong sexuality, nudity, strong violence, disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 118 min.
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Brooke Smith, Diane Baker, Kasi Lemmons, Charles Napier
Small role: Chris Isaak, Frankie Faison, Brooke Smith, Roger Corman, George Romero
Director: Jonathan Demme
Screenplay: Ted Tally (based on the novel by Thomas Harris)
Review published December 26, 1997
Clarice Starling (Foster, Foxes) is an FBI agent-in-training who is sent for the near impossible task of gaining the aid of a dangerous psychopath, Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins, The Bounty), in catching a serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill (dubbed so because he "skins his humps", i.e. he removes part of their skin after killing them.) Now his next victim is the daughter of a Senator and the FBI is turning up the heat to save her before it's too late.
Without a doubt, the best thriller of the decade and perhaps the greatest in the horror-thriller genre since Hitchcock's Psycho. With almost flawless precision, director Jonathan Demme (Melvin and Howard, The Last Embrace) and screenwriter Ted Tally (White Palace, Mission to Mars), adapted from Thomas Harris' novel, sets up the powerful symbolism and themes which run deep on several levels.
Resurrecting the careers of Foster and Hopkins, both of whom deliver outstanding performances, Silence of the Lambs is a gothic and macabre crime thriller of slow but gripping intensity with an intelligence and originality that takes the genre to a new level.
Deservedly garnering Oscars for Best Picture and the two stars, The Silence of the Lambs is a near masterpiece of horrific tension that will stay with you long after each viewing. Outstanding.
-- Follows Manhunter (1986). Followed by Hannibal (2001), Red Dragon (2002), and Hannibal Rising (2007). Later followed by the TV series "Hannibal" (2013)
©1997 Vince Leo