I like movies but I never watch them. I enjoy watching them as I find myself creatively intrigued by most movies but I never find the time nor the patience to sit down in one place for around two hours. However, I want to see more and broaden my horizons so I’m hoping this new blog series will inspire me to watch more movies. I don’t really have a name for it other than “So I Saw…” so suggestions are welcome. Otherwise, this will be an impressions blog where I just write about my initial impressions of a movie I’ve seen for the first time.
So I saw The Silence of the Lambs on Netflix today for the first time and wow, what a good movie! Quick note: although this is the first time I’ve seen the movie, I’ve seen snippets of the movie in passing when it was on TV and I also know about the movie because of all the references that have been made about the movie from other shows like Family Guy. Having seen it in full, the references don’t give the movie enough credit. Intriguing is the best way I would describe this movie, as from the very beginning of the movie, I was hooked. I was listening to every word spoken, how it was spoken, how the actors expressed themselves in their faces, every facet of human communication.
Without giving much away, the plot of the story moves at a good pace and unlike movies like this that tend to have a small moving plot with shocking moments sprinkled in to keep you interested, The Silence of the Lambs moves at a good pace. I hesitate to call it a fast or brisk pace but things are always definitely moving. There’s no moment that comes to mind in that movie that I could call filler or unneeded information. The movie stars Clarice Starling, who is training to become an FBI agent. She is given the task to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist turned serial killer and cannibal, in order to help solve the case of another serial killer who skins women going by the pseudonym of Buffalo Bill.
Of course, stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins are fantastic and I’ll get to them next but I want to point out that I really liked Scott Glenn’s performance. He played Jack Crawford, Clarice’s superior, and I liked his portrayal of the character. I always felt like he had some kind of reservations that he wasn’t stating outright and it gave the character a bit of ambiguity about where he stood. Ultimately, that reservation revealed itself to be that of reluctance but it’s great regardless.
Moving on, Anthony Hopkins is of course outstanding as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. There were moments where I felt that Lecter was behaving too much like a cartoon villain with his over-the-top musings and obviously relishing the idea of toying with the contrasting “good guy”. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed that. However, Hopkins is so good in the role that as the movie went on I realized that Hopkins wasn’t the one relishing the idea of toying with Clarice but Lecter himself. His creepy disposition and indulgence in finding out what makes Clarice tick is Lecter’s doing alone. He, as a former psychiatrist, revels in learning about people, who are all potential patients. In fact, towards the end of the movie, when he’s out of the film until the end, I really ended up missing him, since he was no longer around to give his two cents on the plot at that point.
The character I ended up really liking the most was Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling. For most intent and purposes, Clarice is us, the audience of this film and the movie treats us like it treats Clarice: with respect. By no means does this movie hold your hand and you’ll be constantly be trying to figure out what’s going on. Aside from seeing who the murderer is, we don’t know anything about him. We are learning who this person is with Clarice and this information expects us to be at the same level as Clarice or at least able to comprehend what Clarice is able to figure out. Clarice is also treated wonderfully. Despite references to her appearance, she always remains focus and on point. Despite others being skeptical of her, she stands her ground. Despite wrestling with her own demons, she keeps herself composed. That last point is really important, as Clarice would be an unapproachable super women would it not be for her personal demons as well as her vulnerability with Hannibal Lecter. Whenever she interacts with Lecter, she’s noticeably shaken and nervous. Scared and rattled, Lecter can clearly see this and toys with her as such. However, she doesn’t back down from Lecter’s venom and intimidation tactics. She remains strong despite her clear fear, making her simultaneously relatable and all the stronger. Even the final confrontation shows her as clearly inexperience but not unprepared. What can I say? I love her. I love Clarice Starling.
I liked the way this movie was shot. Everything has this feeling of dirtiness, as if everything was covered in dead leaves, dirt, mud or grain of some kind. Another way the movie accomplishes this is by its frequent up close shots on the actor’s faces. Even characters that have noticeable makeup on, such as Clarice, still don’t have too much on to show the texture of the skin and the various imperfections of the character’s faces. The yellow on the bottom row of teeth, the bags under someone’s eyes, the mouth twitches, the shifting of the eyes, the moving of throat muscles as someone swallows spit, all of this is shown and used as characteristics and communication towards the characters as well as the movie. It’s not just a well acted and written movie, it also uses the language of cinema extremely well. The trifecta!
Two nitpicks before wrapping up: Why does Crawford give Clarice the case to begin with when she’s still in training? Is that a thing, where a trainee will get a case, let alone a high profile one, before graduating? Also, when the movie started, I couldn’t get over how huge the text was for the credits in the beginning of the film. Yeah, I know. Nitpicks. Of course, this didn’t stop me from loving this movie and I’m glad I finally saw it.
Now I want to hear from you! Have you seen The Silence of the Lambs? Did you like it? What about the movie did you like or not like? Let me know in the comment section down below!