Posted on 7/31/12 12:15 AM
I picture everyone has seen this film by now. Released in 1991, the film was a surprise to many. It felt fresh, new and shocking. Much like Psycho probably felt like when it was released back in 1960.
Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's academy. Clarice is a young, attractive female that does scare so easily. And that's why she was chosen by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn)to attempt to persuade cannibal murder Hannibal Lecter into helping her capture notorious murder Buffalo Bill. A killer who skins his victims and has escaped law enforcement for a good while.
We quickly discover that Lecter (Anthony Hopkins)is a very intelligent and perverse man. Lecter quickly takes a liking to Starling, but demands much more appealing jail conditions, but more than that, Starling must trade pieces of her childhood in order to get the information she seeks. Lecter is interested in what makes her tick, and what drives her desire to capture the serial killer she seeks. All the while time is running out since Bill has captured another victim who's death might just be around the corner.
And that lies the heart of the film. The scenes between Hopkins and Foster are some of the best of the decade. The director and screenwriters perfectly nailed what the psychological thriller genre is all about. It is about the psychological state of the protagonist, and I'm not sure it has been explored any better. Lecter peels back Starling's rough exterior to reveal a more vulnerable woman with a child hood that she can't seem to put behind her. Jodie Foster sells it all with so much emotion and skill that you can't help but to relate to her character. Which is something that 1995's Seven was unable to do. It was unable to provide us with a reason to care about the fates and the feelings of the protagonists. Here it's a mix of a great soundtrack, awesome performances and some nifty camerawork. Some closeups into Lecter's chillingly empty eyes is something that I never forgot even though I didn't watch this film for over 10 years.
You can't forget Ted Levine's performance as Buffilo Bill either. Sadly he got lost in the shuffle due to the great lead performances, but he gave us a very creepy take of on a number of real life several killers. Including Ted Bundy and Ed Gein among others. Ted was amazingly creepy as man trying to cope with what was likely a bad child hood. And as the film draws toward it's conclusion, I have to say that the ending is one of the most creepy film endings ever. And it's not that it's extremely grizzly... The acting and the steady and creepy soundtrack really make this one work.
Is it worth the awards and hoopla it got when it was released? I think so... I think it belongs right up there with films like Psycho, Jaws, The Exorcist and other films of those types. The violence and gore might seem tame by today's standards, but the performances as good as ever, and that's what makes this movie hold up after 20 years. It feels nearly as fresh as it did when it was first released. And with this genre, that's not easy to pull off.