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The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman.

Directed by:

Jonathan Demme

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 114 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

Jodie Foster stars as a young rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling, who is one of many agents working on the case of finding a missing girl. The girl is in the clutches of 'Buffalo Bill', a psychopathic serial killer who skins his victims. As a rookie, Starling is sent on the most routine enquiries – in this case, interviewing an incarcerated serial killer called Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who was once a respected psychiatrist, to see if he can provide any insight into the case. Starling discovers that Lecter may be insane, but he is also quite brilliant, manipulative and dangerous.

Starling realises that she will have to play a complicated game to gain Lecter's trust in order to gain the information she needs. Not only does he have requests about his treatment in confinement, but also he wants to look into the recesses of Starling's own complex personal life, and he is only forthcoming if she is. If she is to save the missing girl, she will have to deal with both Lecter and 'Buffalo Bill', which will test both her physical and emotional strength.

This was the film that really set the standard for killer thrillers and has yet to be surpassed. The pace is perfect, building tension slowly throughout and not loosing its grip until the end, even through the simple face-to-face conversational scenes between Lecter and Starling. Both actors are truly outstanding, with Anthony Hopkins in particular creating an icon of modern cinema with his portrayal of Lecter. There is absolutely no gratuitous violence – although some of the scenes are extreme, on every occasion it is certainly justified by the story. The look of the film contributes to its atmosphere, as does the fine score. There is really very little to find fault with in this classic of the genre.

Features an uncredited cameo by George A Romero, appearing as an FBI agent.

Based on the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris.

It's Got: Hannibal Lecter at his terrifying best.

It Needs: Only to come with a warning that sleeplessness may follow.

DVD Extras Although short and sweet the outtakes are well worth a look, as is the Anthony Hopkins phone message. A commentary would have been appreciated with this two DVD set. Extras: Making of, Featurette, Deleted scenes, Phone message, Outtakes, Stills galleries, Teaser trailer, Hannibal trailer, Theatrical trailer, TV spots. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Hannibal, Manhunter, The Cell

Summary

This creepy and atmospheric chiller set the standard for the genre and made a popular icon of Hannibal Lecter. Do not miss this one.

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