The verdict is in on former Home and Away actress Rebecca Breeds' new crime drama series Clarice, with the series garnering a mixed bag of reviews.
The series serves as a sequel to 1991 horror movie Silence of the Lambs, with Breeds – who played Ruby Buckton on Home and Away between 2008 and 2012 – taking on the role of FBI agent Clarice Starling, who was played by Jodie Foster in the movie.
Set in 1993, the series is described as a "deep dive" into the untold personal story of Clarice as she leaves behind the events of Silence of the Lambs and works to pursue dangerous criminals, all the while navigating the high-stakes political world of Washington, DC.
But moving on from her ordeal with killer Buffalo Bill is easier said than done and Clarice continues to be haunted by her memories. Meanwhile, she also has to deal with her celebrity status, as well as contend with a prejudiced male colleague who isn't keen on her presence.
The first reviews of the series, which will premiere in the US later this month, have been mixed to say the least, with some critics praising Breeds' performance as Clarice and the show's exploration of her character.
However, others have lamented the complete lack of involvement of Hannibal Lecter – who isn't mentioned by name in the show due to rights issues – as well as the "run-of-the-mill" crime procedural nature of the series.
Take a look at our review round-up below:
"Breeds is a great network lead – an undervalued skill-set – who sells us on Clarice's anger but shines especially when Clarice finds a way not past it, but through it. Clarice, here, has a genuine sense of mischief, and, shockingly, it doesn't feel out of place.
"Clarice is made with curiosity, confidence, and craft, and it comes as a happy surprise to say that it cares more about its protagonist's mind than anyone else's insides."
"Its main character is already one of the greatest heroines of all time. But there are enough ways this show could have gone wrong that it's worth celebrating how easy it makes it look to get the most important thing right. Clarice does Clarice proud. Played here by Rebecca Breeds, Clarice Starling is electric. Breeds is immediately charming in the role – she's not impersonating Jodie Foster, but she leaves a similar impression, simultaneously tough and vulnerable and sparking like a live wire.
"Fans of The Silence of the Lambs shouldn't expect Clarice to match the horror of the film, but it does right by the woman at its centre. It's a well-executed procedural that works because it has the good sense to stay out of Clarice Starling's way and let her step into the light."
"Even if you believe this sequel has the most sincere artistic intentions – and, to be honest, I don't – there's a big problem here. Everything about Clarice has been done, successfully and terribly and constantly, by a whole generation of CBS procedurals.
"Clarice devours real and imagined history, and what comes out the other side is the umpteenth drama about grisly murders and tough cops who care. At least be a nice cannibal and add some flavouring."
"The absence of Lecter and his indelible dynamic with Clarice leaves a huge void that Clarice struggles to fill. The result is a disappointingly run-of-the-mill procedural – another dark, grim Criminal Minds clone with a shiny brand name slapped on the front of it.
"It's hard not to feel like we're being served a prettied-up, Hollywood version of Clarice, and it rings false that, given the strong bond she and Lecter had in Lambs, she'd barely mention him here.
"Like one of Lecter's victims, it seems drained of all vitality."
— Clarice (@ClariceCBS) January 26, 2021
"Keeping Clarice tied so closely to the Buffalo Bill case just prevents the show from moving the character forward. And every new idea that [Jenny] Lumet and [Alex] Kurtzman come up with steers Clarice further toward generic police-procedural territory, so there's not much to hold onto there, either. Clarice isn't just a bad sequel to The Silence of the Lambs; it's also a bad standalone crime drama, and combining the two aspects only makes each one's faults stand out further.
"The way that The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme illustrates all the microaggressions that Clarice has to deal with as a woman in the FBI is completely lost here, replaced by more blunt instances of sexism. The general lack of nuance makes Clarice a perfect fit among its fellow CBS crime procedurals, but also loses the uniqueness of the character and the world that author Thomas Harris created in his novels.
"Maybe it would be possible to create a Clarice Starling TV series that honours what's great about the character while also forging a new path, but this bland, sanitized network drama definitely isn't it."
Clarice arrives on CBS in the US on February 11, while a UK premiere date is yet to be announced. The Silence of the Lambs is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
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