FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, while trying to hide/put behind her West Virginia roots, of which if some knew, would automatically classify her as being backward or white trash. After graduation, she aspires to work in the agency's Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford. While she is still a trainee, Crawford asks her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist imprisoned, thus far, for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer who cannibalized his victims. Clarice is able to figure out the assignment is to pick Lecter's brains to help them solve another serial murder case, that of someone coined by the media as Buffalo Bill, who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern US, all young women who are slightly overweight (especially around the hips), all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin. She also figures that Crawford chose ... Written by
There is little doubt that the most memorable aspect of The Silence of the Lambs is Anthony Hopkins' incomparable performance as Lecter. Taking over for Brian Cox, who was effective, but not especially memorable, as the good doctor in 1986's Manhunter, Hopkins instantly makes the role his own, capturing and conveying the charismatic essence of pure evil. To his dying day, no matter how many roles he plays in the interim, Hopkins will forever be known for this part. (It is a credit to Hopkins' ability as an actor that this part did not result in stereotyping. His post-Silence career has been greatly varied, with roles as widely diverse as a stodgy butler in Merchant-Ivory's The Remains of the Day and an action hero in The Edge.) I can throw out any number of superlatives, but none of them do justice to this chilling performance, which I labeled as the best acting work of the '90s. Want to feel the icy fingers of terror stroke your heart? Watch this mixture of brilliant eloquence and inhuman cruelty. As portrayed by Hopkins, Hannibal is both a suave, cultured gentleman and an unspeakable fiend. He is gracious and monstrous at the same time. (Hopkins also provided one of the most quotable lines in recent film history with "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti", which was followed by an inimitable slithering slurp.)
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