The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (R)

If ever a movie has been the quintessential film of its genre it is "The Silence of the Lambs" for the thriller/horror genre. No movie before and none after have had the impact and critical acclaim that this movie has seen.
The appeal of the movie lies in the two leads and the story itself. It's a mystery and a suspense movie but what carries the movie with an astounding momentum is the double acting force of Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.
Clarice Starling is a rookie FBI agent who has been assigned to meet with the sociopath Dr. Hannibal Lecter, "Hannibal the Cannibal", to gain knowledge about a killer on the loose which the media has deemed "Buffalo Bill". Her boss, Jack Crawford, is confident that she'll manage to get some information out of him. You see, Dr. Lecter was a psychiatrist, before he started killing and eating his patients, and the FBI suspect that he will give a profile on this Buffalo Bill character. When she meets with him, she has to travel down in the depths of a mental prison. She passes all sorts of twisted men, clutching the prison bars and thrashing around until she comes to the last cell that holds the famous doctor. He's standing perfectly still, like he was waiting for her. When she started to talk to him he tears her apart, taking in her appearance and accent and telling back to her, her own life story. From the get-go, you can tell that Dr. Lecter is extremely discerning. He's smart beyond smart. Clarice realizes that Dr. Lecter can help her find Buffalo Bill but the good doctor concocts a cat-and-mouse scheme. He only gives her a few pieces of information and those are composed in riddles.
Meanwhile, Buffalo Bill has kidnapped another victim and has nefarious plans for her. It becomes a race against the clock to get the girl back.
This movie was based on the book of the same name by Thomas Harris and this is one of the few instances in which the movie exceeds the book. In the book too much time was spent developing characters that were rarely used, like Clarice's boss. There's a whole backstory in the book about how the man's wife is dying and how he feels sorry for her and whatnot; but it doesn't serve that much of a purpose.
In the movie, everything is condensed to exactly what it needs to be.
Jodie Foster is great as Clarice and earned her second Oscar for the role. She's determined to catch the Buffalo Bill, or die trying.
But the show belongs to Anthony Hopkins, who is iconic in his role. Every villain ever is compared to him. AFI lists him as the best villain in film ever. It's hard to come close to his unflinching and charming performance. The thing about Hannibal is his warmness, you feel like he would be your best friend. A bizarre and frightening friend and even if he was a murderer, let's face it—you wouldn't care.
It's impossible to talk about this movie without detracting from its artistry. It's horrific but not horrifying. Grotesque but not gory.
It's a fantastic film that will never be forgotten.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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