Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Silence of the Lambs

Oddly enough I saw the Silence of the Lambs for the first time yesterday, despite having seen both Hannibal and Red Dragon years ago, and having had it on DVD for a few months. I'm not particularly sure why I didn't watch it yet, even though I knew almost the entire plot forwards and backwards. This movie was outstanding, only the third film to collectively win Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

Strangely enough some elements of the plot have lost their shock value, its a shame when cannibalism and skinning people become cultural norms this movie will perhaps fail entirely to amaze, but until then it's easily one of the top 25 movies of all time. Jodie Foster's character is one of the best female characters I've seen in years, and of course Hannibal Lecter is an outstanding villain. What really makes this film stand out is the scenes between them, of which there are only 3 or 4, which have perhaps the best male/female interactions in the history of film. Lecter is only in about 20 minutes of the film, yet still deservedly won best actor, to give you an idea of how dominant his performance was. I'm still slightly partial to Heath Ledger's Joker, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, and Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood, but ultimately if I hadn't known what was going to happen I would probably have picked Lecter as my favorite villain I'd seen on film.

The general inter-connectivity of the film is also quite outstanding, Lecter says something to Clarice, every little thing is then portrayed in some reflective form in another scene, though this is essentially only told through camerawork. Lecter insinuates that Clarice was promiscuous, so when she arrives in West Virginia she's suddenly surrounded by 12-15 cops from the state of her birth and sort of wades around nervously throughout the scene. This is but one example, there are so many others. The major scenes of the film play out through foreshadowing with the camera as well, simply pay attention to where the camera focuses and it isn't terribly difficult to find out what will happen next. I obviously knew Lecter survived due to seeing the sequel, I just wasn't sure how but I spotted it fairly quickly.

If this film has a weakness it is that the secondary villain isn't nearly as impressive as Hannibal Lecter, though he does have one hilarious voice, and not being as grand as Lecter is hardly a severe criticism. It is somewhat unfortunate that the director seems to have dissipated since this film was released, but I guess everyone can't be as consistent as Christopher Nolan. The sequel(s) and the prequel are both far outclassed by this, though Hopkins once again delivers an outstanding performance.

Final Grade: 9.5/10

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