“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) – 4/5 Stars

Continuing my Best Picture winner archive reviews. Pardon this one’s shortness and lack of detail: it was one of my earlier imdb reviews.


Few crime films seem to transcend their genre. “Silence of the Lambs” is one of them. With incredible characters and careful, thoughtful direction, it’s not a complete surprise that this film is among the many elite that call themselves Academy Award winning best pictures.

The film centers around Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster), an FBI trainee that essentially because of being young and feminine, gets assigned to work with a serial killer: the infamous Hannibal Lecter, one of the most chilling villains of all time played by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Eventually she finds herself thrust into another serial murder case involving “Buffalo Bill” and must seek the nutty Lecter’s advice in order to solve it.

Starling and her struggle to ward off the sexist world of that surrounds her in this field is the film’s centerpiece. Director Jonathan Demme does a great job focusing on Foster’s strengths: her facial expressions, her constant nervousness knowing that this will make or break the career to which she aspires. Demme also does a great job making it clear, but not too overtly so, how the men in the film eerily gravitate toward her in every situation. It’s bothering, but the fact that she is indeed the film’s hero makes it somewhat empowering.

While little attention was paid to “Buffalo Bill,” an interesting character with a powerful metaphor and comparison to Starling in Thomas Harris’ book, the focus is substituted with full attention to Lecter’s scenes and his role becomes more pivotal in the film, which is clearly worth it given Hopkins’ talent. It is then more about how he affects Starling and how they work together and form a unique relationship. It is unfortunate both could not be stronger, but there’s is no arguing with the strength of this screenplay.

“Silence of the Lambs” is not the kind of film that will move you, but it is an excellent example of how great characters can take an ordinary serial murder plot and make it something more than just a genre film.

4/5 Stars

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Written by: Ted Tally, Thomas Harris (novel)
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

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  1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Movie Trailer

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