Skillful adaptation of Thomas Harris’ bestseller intelligently wallows in the fascination for aberrant psychology and pervese evil.
Sharp script charts tenacious efforts of young FBI recruit Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) to cope with the appalling challenges of her first case. Confounded by a series of grotesque murders committed by someone known only as ‘Buffalo Bill’, bureau special agent Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) asks his female protege to seek the help of the American prison system’s No. 1 resident monster in fashioning a psychological profile of the killer.
Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) has been kept in a dungeon-like cell for eight years, and while officious doctors and investigators can get nothing out of him, he is willing to play ball with his attractive new inquisitor. Lecter gives Starling clues as to the killer’s identity in exchange for details about her past.
Just as it seems the noose is tightening around the killer, Lecter, in a remarkably fine suspense sequence, manages an unthinkable escape.
Plot is as tight as a coiled rattler. Foster fully registers the inner strength her character must summon up. Scott Glenn is a very agreeable surprise as the FBI agent who takes a chance by putting his young charge on the case. Hopkins, helped by some highly dramatic lighting, makes the role the personification of brilliant, hypnotic evil, and the screen jolts with electricity whenever he is on.
1991: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Actress (Jodie Foster), Adapted Screenplay
Nominations: Best Editing, Sound