HANNIBAL. 2001. DIRECTED BY RIDLEY SCOTT. STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, JULIANNE MOORE AND RAY LIOTTA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1990) is a terrific, almost faultless horror film, but on reflection I actually think I like the sequel, HANNIBAL, even more. Julianne Moore takes on the role of FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling, originally played by Jodie Foster. She might lack some of Foster’s vulnerability but I think she’s even more watchable than her predecessor.
Okey-dokey, plot-wise, ten years have passed since notorious killer Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter escaped from custody. You’ll remember that his insights into the behaviour of psychopathic serial killer ‘Buffalo Bill,’ so-called because he skinned his victims, were sought by the FBI in the first film. Clarice Starling was the agent who liaised with him and she’s never forgotten the way the deadly but desperately charismatic murderer got under her skin.
Nothing much has changed between the two of them in the interim. Lecter has popped up this time in Florence, Italy, a city which of course would suit the cultured Lecter down to the ground. He’s always been a man of sophisticated tastes. Good cheeses and fine wines, the opera, beautiful paintings, fabulous architecture, sculptures and books… Sigh. He’s in his flippin’ element.
These days, he’s a much wanted man as well. He’s being hunted down left, right and centre by different individuals who all have varying reasons for wanting to catch up with the little rascal: a hefty reward, revenge of the highest order, and plain old-fashioned justice. That last one is Clarice, by the way. She’s the only one whose motives for seeking out Lecter are even halfway pure.
Several scenes stand out. The fates of both Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (‘Bowels in or out…?’) of the Italian police and poor old Mr. Potato-Head, oops, sorry, Mason Verger, don’t really bear thinking about, they’re so gruesome.
And it’s honestly hard to know which is worse, what Hannibal originally did to Mason to warrant being his hunted down in the first place or what ultimately happens to Mason as a result of his own quest for bloody vengeance. Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they? They certainly don’t seem to in this case.
Clarice gets closer to Hannibal in this film than she ever did in the original. So close, in fact, that he’s able to strip her of her serviceable jeans and top and dress her in something that highlights her beautiful slim figure and accentuates her femininity, and all without a peep of protest out of the stroppy Starling. Hmmm. How does he manage that…?
He gets close enough, too, to cook for her and wait on her at what has to be the most bizarre dinner party of all time. Naturally, I can’t tell you what makes it so strange, but I can tell you that you’ve literally never seen Ray Liotta give such an open-minded performance…
So, do any of Hannibal Lecter’s enemies get the better of him? Don’t bet on it, that’s all I’ll say. Anthony Hopkins is once more superb as the psychopath who can be curiously courteous and considerate as well as scarily homicidal. It all depends on whom he’s dealing with, I suppose.
Julianne Moore is a worthy successor to Jodie Foster and, as sequels go, this one’s a cracker. One of the rare enough examples, in fact, of a sequel being as good as, if not better than, the original. Don’t let another day go by without watching (or rewatching!) it. You’d better do it. I’ll send Hannibal Lecter after you if you don’t, and if you catch him between meals, he’s liable to get awfully cranky…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: