Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
The recently sadly departed Jonathan Demme’s (Stop Making Sense, Philadelphia) seminal thriller was only the third film ever to sweep all the top categories at the Oscars. Adapted from Thomas Harris’s novel, it features Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in perhaps their most famous roles.
Foster is young, shrewd, attractive FBI trainee Clarice Starling, assigned to interview – and bait – brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer Dr Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins), whose gruesome insights are required to track down another murderer, ‘Buffalo Bill’. But as she tries to pry his secrets loose, he in turn begins questioning her – skilfully digging into her psyche and eliciting long-buried traumas.
Mingling the horror of violent crimes with the psychological terror of their dual, slow-burn interrogation, the film builds to an astoundingly suspenseful climax. Foster is superb as the steadfast, yet vulnerable Clarice; with Hopkins magisterial as the psychopathic Lecter, smoothly and horribly combining sanity and profound madness. While Hopkins’ performance made Lecter an indelible pop culture icon, it is arguable that Foster’s turn as Clarice – hyper-competent and able to play Lecter at his own game – is the film’s true ace card. Maximising their compelling chemistry, The Silence of the Lambs remains an exceptional thriller and an undeniable classic.