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I rewatched "The Silence Of The Lambs" this week for the first time in many years, and was struck by just how few minutes of screen time Anthony Hopkins had, compared to what I remember (and I've seen the film 3-4 times now, though some of it was, if you'll excuse the pun, in small bites). I feel almost guilty for not absolutely loving this great thriller more than I did, especially because it's probably a matter of it simply not living up to the considerable hype that I'd built up in my mind. And while I picked up nuances that I'd missed before, "Silence Of The Lambs" is, to me, largely an Anthony Hopkins showpiece, and when Hopkins wasn't on screen, everything seemed to drag a bit. Ted Levine didn't do much for me as Buffalo Bill - despite the entire film revolving around him, his character was, paradoxically, poorly developed. Yes, Jodie Foster was outstanding in her role of Agent Starling, and the much ballyhooed Pas De Deux between her and Lecter lives up to its billing. The strongest feeling I have about this movie is that I cannot imagine any other actor in the world playing the role of Hannibal Lecter. In all of cinematic history, this must surely be one of the all-time great actor-to-character fits. Hopkins stole the show, even when he wasn't there: The fascinating story of him talking his neighbor into committing suicide took place entirely off-screen, and yet the viewer can spend quite a bit of time imagining what must have transpired. The basic plot of using one serial killer to catch another is extremely interesting, and the human pathos of this man just wanting to be able to see a tree evokes a great deal of sympathy (see? I'm feeling sorry for a brutal serial killer - the ability to successfully manipulate the viewer is one of several remarkable achievements in this film). There's no doubt "Silence Of The Lambs" is a good movie, and there's very little doubt it's a great movie; but there are just too many things lacking, and it's just not complete enough, for it to be one of my all-time favorites, although I suppose it's one of my all-time favorites within the underachieving horror genre. The very end, for example - amusing as it may be - is poorly executed, and an extreme letdown. The phone call should have been breathtaking; instead, it was presented as a lily-livered (sorry) afterthought. Foster was much stronger than Hopkins in that scene - viewers should have walked out of the theater with echoes of a fortissimo chord clanging around in their heads, and instead exited with a bemused chuckle (although a case can be made that viewers are again being manipulated into cheering on the implied upcoming death of an unlikable character). This is a film that just about everyone has seen, and I would love to read what others think, even if it's just a few lines of writing.