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6 reviews, 179 user ratings

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Silence of the Lambs, The
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by Zarathustra

"In the same league as Hitchcock's genre-defining PSYCHO"
5 stars

In an Empire magazine piece published last year, Jonathan Demme's Oscar-winning suspense classic took the top slot in a critics' poll of the best movies of the nineties (beating out admirable contenders like Pulp Fiction and Schindler's List). This time, I agree with the critics. Silence, like Hitchcock's Psycho, elevates the horror genre to high art.

By now, we all know the plot, faithfully adapted by Ted Tally from Thomas Harris' harrowing bestseller. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is an FBI trainee assigned to interview Dr. Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), an incarcerated mad psychiatrist with a taste for human flesh. Her boss Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) suspects Lecter may know something about Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), a vicious serial killer who flays the skin from his female victims and dumps their bodies in rivers. But Crawford initially lets Starling think her interview with Lecter is just routine, and the electrifying exchanges (mediated by a barrier of industrial strength glass) play out as an amalgam of Freudian shock therapy, fairy tale romance (Beauty and the Beast: not the Disney version), and mythology both Christian and classical.

Foster's Starling and Hopkins' Lecter have become two of the most recognized and admired performances of the decade, and watching them, I'm reminded how much I like it when actors play off each other, and their environment, rather than deliver a virtuoso solo. There's no attempt to upstage here, there's an awareness of the other person and how they move, talk, think. Foster speaking in a soft clipped southern drawl, forceful but polite, and moving always with tension in her shoulders, a restless nervous energy. She's scared, but extremely smart and resourceful. Whereas Hopkins speaks with a weird, transcontinental lilt, piercing and nasal and mocking, and scarcely moves at all.

In exchange for his crucial information about Buffalo Bill, Lecter wants Starling to share her deepest secrets with him: about her long-dead father, her need to save the innocent from violence, her own private sufferings in a male-dominated world wildly out of joint. She agrees to Lecter's macabre "quid pro quo," despite Crawford's warning: "you tell him nothing personal. You don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head." Why does she agree? Is it because buffalo bill has kidnapped again, this time a powerful senator's daughter (Brooke Smith), and Starling knows the clock is ticking, the serial skinner's knife itching? Or is Starling perhaps drawn to Lecter, even perversely attracted to him?

Demme's direction is fluid and confident, and he expertly shifts gears throughout the narrative from realism to surrealism, police procedural to dark fairy tale, thriller to myth. No other thriller succeeds so well in capturing the nitty-gritty of police work on the one hand, and truly gothic, dream-like, almost sensual violence on the other.

So one moment we're watching Jodie Foster participating in an autopsy, her sad eyes taking in everything: the resentful small-town cops, the dull gloomy funeral parlor, most of all the dead girl, fat and common, the kind of girl you don't look at twice, deprived even of the dignity of her own skin. This is the grim reality of police work. But later we see Demme (and Harris and Hopkins) at their most operatic, with Hannibal Lecter unleashing his fury, transforming his prison cell by stringing up his poor guard in a kind of medieval crucifixion: bloody, garish, gothic.

This melding of visual styles is what makes the movie good, and not just on a "thrills and chills" level either. This is one movie you can't dismiss as an "exercise in mere style." With The Silence of the Lambs, style IS substance. The "realistic" scenes take place in empty parking lots, gloomy funeral parlors, ordinary stores, ordinary houses, and most painfully in the vacated bedroom of buffalo bill's first victim: filled with the relics of her sad short life. Whereas the horror sequences take place in nightmarishly vivid settings: a mental asylum that resembles a dungeon, a court house blazing with radiant light, and buffalo bill's labyrinthine basement "like the maze that thwarts us in dreams" (Harris). These Grand Guignol set pieces are filled with dialogue and visuals of moths and butterflies, blood and mascara, mannequins and corpses, terrifying men and terrified women, and beautifully photographed violence.

The glamorization of violence, of course, is what makes “family values” advocates hate this movie. Yet it's crucial to the meaning of the story. Critic David Denby suggested that the killers are aesthetes, even artists (in the opening sequence, there's a sign at FBI headquarters that reads: pain hurt agony... Love it), while many of the "average, normal folk" we see lack the imagination to be anything but victims. The glamorization of evil is at the crux of the movie: or to be more precise, the glamorization of moral extremes, of extraordinary good or extraordinary evil, is at the heart of it. Only three characters loom large in the viewer's consciousness when all the hue and cry is over: Hannibal Lecter, Buffalo Bill, Clarice Starling. Everyone else fades into a commonplace grayness.

We'll have to wait and see how the sequel entitled "Hannibal" turns out (the archly decadent book's already divided readers), with Hopkins reprising his now eponymous role but Foster and Demme replaced by Julianne Moore and Ridley Scott. They sure as hell have a tough act to follow, but all the same, I'll say it in advance: Happy Valentine's Day, 2001.

The Silence of the Lambs is an awesome thriller that works on multiple levels: as pure adrenaline rush, as operatic visual feast, as dramatic duet performed by the flawless Foster and harrowing Hopkins, and as meditation on the darker aspects of contemporary America

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1927&reviewer=213
originally posted: 05/26/00 02:15:14
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User Comments

9/24/17 morris campbell good not great imho 4 stars
3/01/14 Jeff Browlee One of the most overrated films of all time 2 stars
3/01/12 stanley welles beautifully acted, intriguing and gripping 5 stars
9/16/10 Dennis Not to be missed. 5 stars
6/10/10 Flathead King Good film although the ending could have been better. 4 stars
4/12/10 dixie normas sexy 5 stars
10/26/08 Samantha Pruitt one of the view horrors that has great acting and a good stroy! 4 stars
8/11/08 David Very disturbing and excellent psychological thriller. 5 stars
8/22/07 Quigley An amazing film that gets the job done, but still very disturbing. Hopkins is truly scary. 4 stars
6/06/07 brad Move over Psycho, there is a new movie in town 5 stars
11/30/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
11/14/06 BobAbooey kewl moovie 5 stars
10/02/06 Jeremy Davies One of the most brilliant films ever!! 5 stars
8/29/06 stacy the best movie ever and ted levine was awesome in it 5 stars
8/14/06 David Cohen Scary, compelling, first rate acting, it's a shame that the sequel was so purile 5 stars
7/18/06 Michael Great movie. Brian Cox was better. 3 stars
7/16/06 Marty hopkins is amazing. kicks psycho's ass 5 stars
6/07/06 Peggy Doty SCARY BUT EXCELLENT 5 stars
5/09/06 omar great movie. worth watching 5 stars
4/28/06 MP Bartley I'll say it again: take the 16 minutes of Hopkins away and this would be decidely average.. 4 stars
3/11/06 chris f an exellent movie although my fav is hannibal 5 stars
2/23/06 TB Great Suspese film about craziness 5 stars
1/19/06 Littlepurch You can bloody see where the Oscars were earned! Amazin! 5 stars
12/23/05 cody a great suspense thriller with very unusual story but entertaining, all actors were good 4 stars
12/06/05 T. Maj Overrated "Psycho" wannabe 3 stars
11/08/05 Agent Sands A riveting, masterfully crafted movie with great score & stunningly well-developed Hannibal 5 stars
11/07/05 LP Quagmire The WORST film to win an Oscar of any kind. Just awful. 1 stars
10/30/05 Wisamane Hannibal was better. 5 stars
10/06/05 Johnny A thrilling masterpiece. 5 stars
8/21/05 Eden Amazing acting from Foster and Hopkins. One of the best films ever 5 stars
7/12/05 DM It's hard to believe Hopkins had only 20 minutes of screen time. 5 stars
6/14/05 jameth burketh A smart thriller with great characters, casting, and direction. 5 stars
5/24/05 Johnno thrilling, gripping, sexy, a real thinking film. One of the best films ever. 5 stars
3/24/05 indrid cold Sure Hopkins is great, but otherwise this is one highly overrated movie. 4 stars
11/24/04 Tony The best damn motion picture of all-time! 5 stars
11/17/04 chris only interesting when foster and hopkins onscreen 3 stars
11/13/04 X $ % & ! It is a good movie 4 stars
10/06/04 Desperado Brilliant acting aguably the best thriller ever Hopkins is mesmerizing, Foster is great A+ 5 stars
9/03/04 Ron Newbold I liked the movie but have never really wanted to watch it a second time. 4 stars
8/29/04 Peter James Phenomenal 5 stars
8/28/04 capitalbliss Excellent! I watch this movie at least once a year and love it everytime. 5 stars
8/27/04 Al Guy A very good movie - and rewatchable performances! 5 stars
8/27/04 Mike Stanbridge Can still watch it and get freaked out by Buffalo Bill 5 stars
8/24/04 Jessica one of the best 5 stars
8/17/04 Destiny Pifer great movie that kept me on the edge of my seat 5 stars
8/06/04 Anthony G Well made, anthony hopkins owns 5 stars
7/28/04 American Slasher Goddess One of the best thrillers of the 90's. 5 stars
5/14/04 Stuart Thriller masterpiece especially the ending 5 stars
5/12/04 Me darkofnight is a fucking retard 5 stars
4/18/04 Gerdien Knikker real good 5 stars
4/07/04 Sig This is why Jodie Foster wouldnt do "Hannibal"?... This wasnt scary 5 stars
3/24/04 Lord Haw Haw Yo, darkofnight, don't give up your day job. 5 stars
3/24/04 Erica Thornton my favorite movie of all time 5 stars
3/18/04 Teresa Williams Great movie, just don't watch it alone! 4 stars
3/17/04 Mike Erdelyi Dont let the kids watch this one. 5 stars
3/14/04 darkofright stinks of poo this is one awesome movie, pay attention to it and do watch it at night! 5 stars
3/11/04 Jessica don't watch it at night 5 stars
3/05/04 A Nice Chianti Do the world a favor, DoN, and keep on trying to swallow that tongue of yours. 5 stars
3/01/04 Margie I first watched this when I was 12 or so, so I was very freaked out.. scarier than Chuckie! 4 stars
2/22/04 Dr.Lecter Darkofnight is pieceofshit; the most intelligent thriller ever made 5 stars
2/21/04 CrowEater DoN is the worlds WORST movie reviewer & it wasnt misoginy you idiot it was rookie jealousy 5 stars
2/20/04 Denise Duspiva Not worth all the hype 3 stars
2/15/04 jdogg Foster winds up w/dorky entomlogist--what is this geek's problem (darkofnight)??? 5 stars
2/15/04 Lord Chu I'm sick of these FUCKING WHINEY CRITICS. Remember when this site was actually unique? 5 stars
2/13/04 cd classic 5 stars
2/12/04 Jack Bourbon Some of you reviewers are morons. 5 stars
2/12/04 Jack Sommersby Pandering-down-to dreck. Overly mechanical and soulless. Glenn is only bright spot. 2 stars
1/31/04 britney havent seen it 3 stars
11/29/03 john rather overrated average thriller - Foster is great and Hopkins hams it up 3 stars
11/16/03 KING EDWARD marisa monroe and ian- please die, like the pitiful little lambs you are......soon. 5 stars
10/13/03 Ian zzzzzzzz 1 stars
10/02/03 Saxon Best thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock 5 stars
9/13/03 lector the molester j. sommersby - i hope you have a wife and children, so i can kill them in front of you. 5 stars
8/27/03 Mr. Hat Really well-made. Hannibal's prison escape should be Nic Cage's in "Face/Off." 5 stars
7/26/03 Monster W. Kung Formulaic and incredibly underwhelming. One of the most overrated ever. 3 stars
7/11/03 Indrid Cold Highly overrated. Lector is cool, but the movie is boring. See "Seven" instead. 4 stars
5/29/03 lady macbez ted levine naked mmmmmmmmmmmm 5 stars
4/19/03 Marisa Monroe There isn't a ranking low enough for this -- it reeks like 12yr. old cheddar. 1 stars
1/19/03 Forrest Mullikin A brillant film... 5 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby Overblown, overobvious crap. 2 stars
11/02/02 Rod a grand film 5 stars
10/23/02 Flounder One of the greatest psychological thrillers ever to hit the big screen! 5 stars
10/23/02 Angela Awesome movie! 5 stars
10/06/02 Butterbean Finally saw it. It lives up to the hype! 5 stars
9/24/02 I Can't Swim I can't stand Jodie and here she is at her most annoying; Tony is Terrrrrrrrrific though 4 stars
8/15/02 Scott Disturbing, chilling, effective as hell. I loved the whole damn thing!!! 5 stars
8/15/02 Shaun one of the few movies that still runs chills down my spine 5 stars
7/29/02 Film Guy Good movie. A little boring in the begining, but it was good 4 stars
4/25/02 Charles Tatum Demme's direction annoys, but still good 4 stars
4/12/02 Dana Krook Seriously creepy, but good til the last second. 5 stars
3/11/02 penis penis 5 stars
3/02/02 Chowie this is a brilliant piece of work 5 stars
11/12/01 Hannibal Lecter Could i possibally be more delectable 5 stars
10/31/01 Monday Morning Hey Andrew, get a grip, willya? 5 stars
10/09/01 Andrew Carden A Movie That Shakes Your Body, and Moves Deeply Into Your Soul. 5 stars
10/08/01 Monster W. Kung Jeez... the more I watch this movie, the more it seems ridiculously overrated. Totally. 3 stars
10/07/01 jawsboy Great acting and direction & good script. Shitty photography however. good, but overated. 4 stars
10/04/01 Laura Freitag I think that it is a awesome movie 5 stars
10/03/01 Phoenix Great acting and many memerable scary moments make the movie a classic. 5 stars
8/31/01 spaceworm Shame on that sequel. 5 stars
8/30/01 Hooker with a Penis Acting, oohhh the acting!!! And plot, yes plot!!! This movie just has it all!!! WOW 5 stars
8/15/01 Henry Ginsberg Great performance by Hopkins . 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Fucking breathtaking...Few films can compare to this masterpiece. 5 stars
7/28/01 Steve Maybe I just "didn't get it," but I didn't like this movie. 3 stars
7/21/01 buckey one of the best 5 stars
6/20/01 another Silence teen lover This movie has got to be one of my absolute favorites in the world - a downright classic 5 stars
6/08/01 King Jackass Makes me think twice about fava beans and chainti. 5 stars
6/04/01 svetlana quite the mesmerizing flick! 5 stars
5/13/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Anyone who doesn't like this movie can kiss my ass on the 6:00 news!! 5 stars
5/10/01 anonymous mastermind Desert Eagle makes me sick!This movie is the best! 5 stars
5/03/01 roby lafon very good on suspense 5 stars
3/28/01 dale hardiman never seen it but heard that it's good.scene from the prison cell was used in loaded weapon 4 stars
3/27/01 Monster W. Kung One of the most overrated movies ever. Good, but not nearly as great as they say. 4 stars
3/08/01 gmh Demme does his best to stylize a silly premise. Jodie Foster is at her worst. 2 stars
3/08/01 Aaron Correll So, far the only movie where you care more about the monster then the heros 5 stars
2/28/01 fifu this is a very creative story i like this movie 4 stars
2/28/01 Ticiana Maria Ramos de Castro I will be never the same person. I will never forget it 5 stars
2/22/01 Tyrone Good, but not special. 3 stars
2/20/01 BENEDICT Anthony Hopkins is just gorgeous as hannibal! I love that movie it is so psycho, & interest 5 stars
2/18/01 Avenger Girl Awesome movie..hopkins and foster played great character roles..well worth seeing 5 stars
2/14/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi See it or I'll body slam you and do the wicky-wacky all over your broken body. 5 stars
2/13/01 MedStudent WOW, breathtaking, talk about suspense! 5 stars
2/13/01 TomServo Great movie must see 5 stars
2/06/01 Skip Great film, though excessively grose. 4 stars
1/25/01 louise jensen a stunning movie 5 stars
1/14/01 Yoshi Fantastic movie, thrilling, suspensful, and all around, great! 5 stars
1/01/01 Patient X Fuck you goodberry,and Jarred!this movie rules 5 stars
12/30/00 Msitrab Great movie 5 stars
12/13/00 Giancarlo Fiorani a very well made movie that takes you for a hart pounding ride 5 stars
12/09/00 Shandy Absolutely fantastic and terrifying 5 stars
12/02/00 Phil HILARIOUS!....Sorry, I was thinking about "Silence of the Hams".....This one is good too. 5 stars
11/29/00 Connoisseur the most surprising Best Picture winner ever! 5 stars
11/12/00 David Nagel It is a good movie! 5 stars
11/07/00 Ann So awsome 5 stars
11/02/00 Tom WOW 5 stars
10/29/00 Big Al best horror film ever its chilling 5 stars
10/26/00 Malene Nesgaard Big, big, big movie! 5 stars
10/13/00 Eli Hagler Best Scary movie 5 stars
8/21/00 Dirty Sanchez It doesn't get much better than this. Fantastic!! 5 stars
7/11/00 Matthew Bartley It's a great horror and Hopkins is amazing. But it's not that good 4 stars
6/23/00 Naushad Khanji Small content.Repetitive scenarios.Little substance 2 stars
6/12/00 DAVID Movie has an interrasting idea but i say its just waaay overrated 4 stars
6/03/00 PJ A Masterpiece! one of the top ten best films of the 90's easily, horror par excellance 5 stars
6/02/00 Jommy Jomes Good! 5 stars
5/28/00 James Bond This movie was fucked up. 4 stars
5/26/00 The Bomb 69 the only movie that I actually liked Jodie Foster in, and that is saying something!!! 5 stars
5/17/00 kat cool 5 stars
5/05/00 dahmer!!!!!!!!!!AHHH! Cool to the core!Don't miss it! 5 stars
5/04/00 dead by dawn dead as it gets,and dead=good! 5 stars
5/03/00 ricky! FUn movie!Lots of good gore! 5 stars
5/02/00 Pansy Demented! 5 stars
5/01/00 Gus Van Sant good shite! 5 stars
5/01/00 I'm Joe This was a really funny movie!Scary too. 5 stars
4/30/00 Ummm..... quite excellent! 5 stars
4/30/00 scream sucks ass good movie just about sums it up! 5 stars
4/30/00 Norman Bates great flick!Better than seven,which was awful shite! 5 stars
4/29/00 Negative Norm a fuckin' masterpiece! 5 stars
4/29/00 Ehh... good 5 stars
4/22/00 TOM Good movie,quite scary! 5 stars
4/21/00 Buffalo Bill Great movie! 5 stars
3/03/00 k.tomkowski For 1 it is not scary, for 2 Lecter's escape is hollywood fiction. 3 stars
2/09/00 Ed Wood A Knockout!! 5 stars
12/23/99 Japtalian I wonder if Jodi will let me father her next child? 5 stars
11/23/99 Alexsis Excellent movie 5 stars
11/16/99 Tim Hawkins great movie 4 stars
10/31/99 James Banks amazingly acted, directed and filmed. utterly terrifying 5 stars
7/26/99 Bozo To call this 'total crap' insults the REAL 'total crap' 1 stars
7/18/99 blue b. Suspenseful... 5 stars
7/14/99 J. Random Hacker a perfect piece of filmmaking. don't miss the book either 5 stars
7/08/99 Ann really great-just don't watch it alone 5 stars
6/21/99 dave creepy 5 stars
5/24/99 Ah Dooey Better than that vile movie In Dreams... botched up shit! 5 stars
5/15/99 The Bomb 69 Great performances but Just Average rating, Daria get bent!! 5 stars
5/06/99 Dana Scully It's simply awesome! 5 stars
4/19/99 werdaw Awsum movie. Suspenseful 5 stars
4/16/99 Daria Great performances all around, but still one of the most over-rated films of all time. 3 stars
4/09/99 Cool Thing Simply excellent in every regard. 5 stars
4/08/99 little jerry Would be the horror film of the 90's if Seven hadn't of come along.Can't wait for HANNIBAL. 5 stars
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  13-Feb-1991 (R)
  DVD: 30-Jan-2007


  N/A (M)

Directed by
  Jonathan Demme

Written by
  Thomas Harris
  Ted Tally

  Jodie Foster
  Anthony Hopkins
  Scott Glenn
  Anthony Heald
  Ted Levine
  Kasi Lemmons

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