The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

by British Film Critic

This week was a big one for spending some quality time knocking films that have been waiting for their time to be kicked off, and I got through some big hitters for sure, one of which of course being The Silence Of The Lambs. I’m pretty impartial when it comes to genres, although my relationship with horror films isn’t exactly perfect, and so going into this horror thriller, I was hoping for the best, and I pretty much got it.

Tak Fujimoto does a remarkable job at communicating visually with the viewer, never accepting an adequate shot, but rather always guaranteeing the perfect shot, with the perfect lighting and the perfect composition, for each and every moment – many, if not all of the scenes of direct interaction between Clarice and others take on an incredibly intimate, confrontational focus, and whilst one could assume this would get old after a while, the way in which it is applied, specific to each situation, ensures the opposite is the case.

One of the uses for this visual language, and perhaps the most evident, is that of visually demonstrating the hostile environment that women must endure when trying to simply exist in a workplace, and in professions dominated by, and controlled by, men, with Demme making the incredibly thoughtful creative choice of putting us (almost literally) in the shoes of Clarice, having to witness and take all the misogynistic comments, demeaning stares and passive disrespect, all in service of building a visceral sense of empathy for not just Clarice, but for the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of women who have to put up with exactly what is experienced in this film, every single day.

When it comes to performances, the film leaves no expense spared, drawing genuinely excellent performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in particular, although practically everyone in the supporting cast makes the film what it is, that being a modern horror/thriller classic, one that presented some of the most iconic characters in cinema history to a great deal of people, and one that has influenced its respective genres, and cinema as a whole, ever since.