When movies are good, the always brilliant Jeanette Catsoulis is very, very good, but when they're bad, she's better. This week, she, um, devours, Hannibal Rising.
Like Leatherface and Freddy Krueger, Hannibal Lecter is a monster who thrives in the dark; probe his past, and there’s a danger of finding only banality.
But this is America, where all pathologies must be excavated and neutralized, so we’re off to 1944 Lithuania, where the Lecter family is facing down Nazis, Russians, Vichy French and wild boars. The arrival — and subsequent dinner plans — of a gang of starving thugs swiftly disposes of young Hannibal’s little sister and awakens his cannibalistic cravings. Eight years in a Soviet orphanage do little to rehabilitate. “You do not honor the human pecking order,” the warden tells Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel). “You’re always hurting the bullies.” Clearly he’s more disturbed than we think.
Scarcely pausing to wonder which wine goes best with East European thug, Hannibal sets out to avenge his sister and devise recipes....
Conceived in the clamor of the marketplace, “Hannibal Rising,” like its predecessor “Hannibal,” makes a star out of a character who should exist only in the margins, a peripheral terror made larger by mystery. The success of “The Silence of the Lambs” depends on a dense mixture of psychological intrigue and stylized flashes of brutality, glimpsed only from the corner of the eye like fleeting hints of Lecter’s psychoses. “Hannibal Rising” drags these into the light and applies a magnifying glass, reducing one of our most mythic villains to a callow, dysfunctional chef.