Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite movies, quite obviously a masterpiece. It’s thrilling enough to be a great genre flick, ooky enough to be a great exploitation film, rich and thoughtful enough to be a great art film. Its craft is unspeakably impeccable and haunting, and every damn scene has masterful-level work you can deconstruct.
What struck me this time (that I missed as a 20 year old) is how important the role of gender is in the story: Nearly every story beat is about some sort of aggression or condescension from a man towards a woman. The script and Foster do a great job of capturing a seething, barely-concealed resentment for how much Agent Starling is diminished for her womanhood and beauty.
One thing that troubled me, though, is the trans depiction. Given the numerous trans advocates who have called the film problematic and transphobic, I’m inclined to embrace that view. (The take that “the ‘transsexual’ thing is incidental to the story” feels like a rationalization and misses a lot about the villain and their motivation.) I’m going to read and reflect more, but I wish I didn’t have a lingering red flag on a movie that otherwise ranks in the upper echelon of my favorites.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100
Masterpiece: Tour De Good (8/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.