CLARICE - Season 1, Episode 1 & 2 - "THE SILENCE IS OVER" / "GHOSTS OF HIGHWAY 20"
If you know me or follow me at all, on any platform, you know The SIlence of the Lambs (1991) is a definitive film on my list. Clarice Starling is my favorite woman fictional character, period. I am passionate about true crime overall and this film helped me discover this fascination with true crime at a young age. Jodie Foster’s performance as Clarice is one that I could talk about for hours. I truly believe that The SIlence of the Lambs is a feminist film, and the character is strong representation of a feminist role model. The thought of a revival of the character of Clarice made me equally excited and nervous, understandably so. CBS’s original series titled after the woman herself, “Clarice” picks up right where the film left off. Clarice is coming off of the success of single-handedly bringing down the terrifying serial killer Buffalo Bill and now trying to navigate the rest of her brand new career as an FBI agent.
After the first episode, I found myself torn. I want the show to do well and give Clarice a developed and thoughtful story that is hers, only. She finds herself in a place where, of course, she cannot escape her recent past and is continuously questioned by almost everyone she meets: “are you famous?”--which honestly just comes off a bit cheesy and cheap, but that plot point is to be expected. Both episodes are kinda all over the place, though. Each episode seems to be its own little story and there is no pick up on a through line, other than the existence of Clarice’s character, and her being the main focus. This procedural style and structure of episodes, where a conflict is introduced and then resolved by the end of the episode also feels immature.
I don’t hate Rebecca Breeds’ portrayal of Clarice, I actually think she does a half decent job. No one--NO ONE will ever be Jodie Foster’s Clarice, so I think I had low expectations going in on that upfront. Her accent is bearable, the low-ponytail hair in face style/look is sometimes not, but they’re doing their best. Clarice is treated like an outsider by the rest of the agents and law enforcement teams. That feels cheap, too, like these men she works with are so small and insecure that they would just rather tear her down for her successes instead of being excited to work with her, nonetheless predictable. There is one agent, though, who befriends her, and that I assume will end up becoming a romantic interest.
There is little suspense or thrill, and so little development with our titular character, that barely holds my interest in between commercials. Overall I am a bit disappointed so far--but I will continue to watch and give the show a chance. I cannot help but wonder, though, how different this could be if it was a Netflix, HBO, or some other streaming service show, instead of network-based. There needs to be more, and I hope Clarice can make it happen. If you are looking for something Demme-style and are less open-minded than I am--I would suggest you stay away from this and just rewatch the classic film and celebrate it’s 30 years of perfection.