If you’re familiar with my articles on here, you’ll probably be aware of the fact that I have my father to thank for introducing me to some of the world’s greatest films. Despite watching the likes of Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction when I was maybe just a litttttle too young, I only got round to watching Silence of the Lambs in its entirety a matter of months ago.
Firstly, Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. There you have it. Two superb actors, both delivering chilling performances from the moment the film starts. Hopkins’ performance is truly mesmerising considering his minimal screen time, from his stature to the brittle, harsh tone of his voice, and if there was ever going to be any man to play such a fearful, daring and psychotic character, it had to be him. If you’re after a lavishly dark, twisted and thrilling two and a half hours, then look no further.
Based on Thomas Harris’ book of the same name, The Silence of the Lambs follows Clarice Starling (Foster), a hopeful and hardworking FBI trainee, doing everything in her power to leave her fragile and turbulent childhood in the past. Desperate to advance her career and prove her colleagues she is a worthy candidate, Clarice contacts Jack Crawford, head of the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit. Dealing with America’s most dangerous and heinous criminals, Clarice is assigned to one of the most prolific of them all, Dr Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter, a former psychotherapist turned murderer, famous for consuming his victims after brutally murdering them. Crawford appoints Clarice to emotionally deconstruct Lecter, hoping that a female influence may intrude upon his psychologically challenging and unusual behaviour. However, Hannibal’s potential knowledge of another serial killer, ‘Buffalo Bill’, is fundamental towards his capture, meaning Clarice must pick the brains of her latest assignment in order to gather enough information to lead to his whereabouts. Six victims later and a potential seventh after a high-profile kidnapping, Clarice finally meets her match – Buffalo Bill himself.
Twisted, dark and emotionally charged, this film pretty much sets the bar for thrillers. Having only watched snippets in the past, finally seeing this impressive film in its entirety was definitely worth the wait. Key features include themes such as loss, grief, self-awareness and moral acceptance as well as practically all of Hannibal’s dialogue. Everything he says has a meaning, one sentence can unfold an entire murder case, yet at the same time he is making the lives of the police, and that of Clarice, insanely difficult, causing them just as much pain as his victims.
If the amount of Academy awards is anything to go by – the impressive feat of becoming just the third film to capture the ‘Big 5’ of Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Hopkins), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Foster), Best Director (Demme) and Best Adapted Screenplay makes The Silence of the Lambs truly worth the watch.
With a stellar script, performances and storyline, if you’re to watch any film this year, definitely give Starling and Lecter a try.
Words by Paige Bradshaw
Watch this if you like: The Sixth Sense, The Shining, Taxi Driver.