Film Reviews, Short Review

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


In terms of its construction – in its carefully-selected cinematography that aligns the audience closely with Clarice Starling’s (Jodie Foster) point-of-view, in its ice-cold star turn by Anthony Hopkins, in its carefully-paced storytelling – The Silence of the Lambs functions as a masterclass in how to build an effective thriller. Yet, 25 years since it swept the Oscars, it doesn’t feel quite as fresh as it may have been. Perhaps this is due to the basics of its plot being routinely ripped off by countless lesser thrillers since, or perhaps it simply wasn’t that brilliant to begin with: this is a decent film made better by the strength of its parts. Take a look, for example, at a scene near the climax, where Jonathan Demme intercuts between two houses – one where a police raid on a suspected serial killer is about to take place, and one where Starling is about to knock on the door of what we know to be the actual murderer – the two scenes are intercut in such a way so as to misdirect the audience, but the misdirection is so obvious it is practically pointless. Such missteps are the sign of a film much weaker beneath the surface than it appears initially, though The Silence of the Lambs remains a solid thriller nevertheless.


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