Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

Silence of the Lambs begins the inescapable downward spiral of commercialisation over creativity, with Jonathan Demme's famous 1991 serial killer movie based on the novel of the same name.

Nearly identical to Manhunter/Red Dragon in terms of structure, Silence attempts to distract the viewer from this by unwisely upping the ante of the content with more violence and weirdness, and an even more ludicrous and twisted social misfit killer.

The film also marks the start of the transformation of the character of Hannibal Lector from believable, chilling minor role to the serial killer version of Ronald McDonald; a supernaturally-powered, pun-dispensing omnipotent face-eater. Anthony Hopkins' hissable pantomime version robs the character of any menace or dignity and replaces them with cliched evil genius tics and a parade of funny voices.

And while Jodie Foster is splendid in the role of FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling, the one-two punch of the film's crippling similarity to Michael Mann's far superior Manhunter and the cartoonish story and characters doom it from the very start. Even the occasional dip into gothic horror, and a superbly tense final pitch black shootout aren't enough to quite redeem it.

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