This is my second watch. In my first chance of watching "The Silence of The Lambs", I know there is something need to be fixed from it. Now, I understand that that opinion is reasonable. "The Silence of The Lambs" maybe is just a similarly-styled horror-thriller, except that it has Clarice Starling and—especially—the legendary Hannibal Lecter in it. How it tries to relate to human psychopathic illness and abnormal sexual behavior is also another difference. It barely needs gory and bloody scenes, it doesn't even have a mind-blowing twist. That's why I come up with an opinion that without these characters and premises, "The Silence of The Lambs" is gonna be a thriller that is almost similar to other thrillers.
Adapted from the novel by Thomas Harris, “The Silence of The Lambs” centers on the character of Clarice Starling (portrayed by Jodie Foster), a young FBI cadet who was instructed by her senior, Jack Crawford (portrayed by Scott Glenn) to study from an imprisoned psychopathic patient, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins). The secret intention of this study is to gain information about another psychopathic serial-killer, Buffalo Bill (portrayed by Ted Levine), who was still in run. Starling has to convince Lecter to help her, as the situation gets worse after Bill kidnaps a daughter of a U.S. politician.
"The Silence of The Lambs" is a good example of how could a thriller turns into a psychological horror without the presence of extreme violence and abundant bloody scenes, although there are some graphic presentations (like bodies and sensual photographs). It covers the darkest human nature, making this unbelievably possible crime to really take place. Although there's not sufficient background and reasoning about it, "The Silence of The Lambs" delivers a fresh style of spooking viewers without necessarily expanding to any artificial substitutes. It tells us that somehow, we human are more terrifying that we could possibly imagine. It develops from a look to human behavioral and psychological illness to an interesting detective-styled mystery. Not a very satisfying package, but still worth to experience.
Some parts are a bit staged, because to be honest, out of all characters and premises, "The Silence of The Lambs" doesn't give enough room to viewers to be involved in the mystery itself. I recalled, in my first watch, how I try to guess where this movie is gonna lead me to. But I wasn't either surprised or blown, because it went predictably. It is more to be a game of characters rather than a plot play, because the story doesn't offer much. Well, "The Silence of The Lambs" doesn't contain a heavy whodunit style actually, but if it does, it will be a lot more interesting. It still successfully drags you to pump your adrenaline and be curious throughout the duration, and that's why somehow watching it without trying to guess anything about the plot and asking many questions will excite you more.
Clarice Starling is the star. She is the one who always be under the spotlight wherever the story goes to. A charismatic, smart, unbreakable woman with a straight-forwarded aim and a hidden scars from the past, Jodie Foster ensures us that Starling deserves the spotlight. Still, for me her presence is less attention stealing than the legendary villain, Hannibal Lecter. Anthony Hopkins delivers probably the best character he has ever portrayed in movies. He kills viewers with his gestures, words, and cold expression. He is the scene-stealer; I always curious if he was about to take sudden reaction in certain circumstances where he was faced to other persons, because his mimic is unreadable and his brain always works. A truly mind manipulator that somewhat amazes me. There's an indescribable loss where he was away from some scenes, and although Starling is always there, trying to re-balance the nuance, Lecter is the one that I expect the most. I haven't watched "Red Dragon" or "Hannibal", but I surely will, because I was so intrigued to know this character more.
Unfortunately, Lecter is more to be a secondary supporting character than Starling, or even Buffalo Bill. Since "The Silence of The Lambs" is tend to be a movie with some outstanding (or unimaginable) characters rather than with a fresh and exciting story, it puts heavy stroke on Starling alone—with no help from Lecter, due to his insignificant amount of duration to show off, or even Buffalo Bill, due to his inability to capture the perfect moment with his antagonism or to be on the same level of smarty villain like Lecter. At last, this "emptiness" appear more prominent because of the so-so story (although the premise itself is so much interesting) and the imbalance portion of characters. Jonathan Demme uses an unusual style of picturing characters by the many use of close-up framing, giving the feel like the characters are talking to the viewers directly. While it does work to characterize the roles, it doesn't contribute much to the story or the movie as a whole. Finally, the conflict does not really climax, and the final scene does not really thrill.
I'm sorry, but for me somehow "The Silence of The Lambs" is a bit overrated. It's not that I don't like it; this movie just has the potent and opportunity to surprise me more than what it does right now. Interesting premises and its ability to terrify viewers with the all-human characters are what I mostly appreciate from "The Silence of The Lambs" beside, of course, the Starling-Lecter duo.
▲ The great duo of Lecter and Starling, good premise
▼ Not a surprising package of thriller, insignificant amount of time for Lecter to show off
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS | COUNTRY USA YEAR 1999 RATING n.a. RUNTIME 119 min GENRE Crime, Drama, Thriller CAST Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald WRITER Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay) DIRECTOR Jonathan Demme MORE INFO