Perhaps its just me, but I saw a definite homo-erotic undercurrent in this one. Seriously. Anthony Hopkins played the entire film as if he really was looking to seduce Ed Norton. Now, one could argue that the seduction in question was one of beckoning Norton to the dark side, and one would have some justification in saying so.
But in watching Hopkins' body movements, tone of voice, and inflection, I think there's more to it than that. He plays Hannibal as if he totally is infatuated, turned on, tickled to death by Norton. Yes, granted, Hannibal does stab Graham (Norton's character) in the stomach at the start of the film. But that's self-preservation, and at the same time he gets in a neat bit about "wishing he could have played the game a bit more" during that segment. And what part of the part does he state he's going to consume? His heart. Hmmm...
Even a lot of the direction between the two characters subtly suggests a kind of erotic tease--when Graham visits Hannibal in the gymnasium, they circle each other, as if they're dancing. Then Hannibal starts to move in close--the director plays with the distance between the two characters, Hopkins aching to lean in closer, and at one point moves in to bite Norton. Seriously, that scene is deliberately blocked in a teasing, erotic fashion, as if toying with Norton (who is a very pretty boy) is a total turn on for Hannibal. And look at how Ed Norton appears in the movie. Yes, he's a family man--wife and kids. But he dresses and looks like every gay man's dream.
The weakest link, however, in this is Norton, who doesn't play the part as if he's being seduced or even torn at all. His portrayal is grim, obsessed with determining the identity of the serial killer, focused. Okay, I'm not going to even think about any type of flirtation between him and Hannibal (that is a gross thought), but we don't even get any "Come to the dark side, Luke" going on. This was a big disappointment, because there is a lot he could have worked with here. (This is an aside, but I cannot believe that his character didn't show the slightest bit of anger when Hannibal revealed Norton's home address in the paper, thus jeopardizing his family. It suggests that it was more of a means to advance the plot--and ultimate surprise ending--rather than what it could have been--a chance to show us some insight into the character of the protagonist in the movie. Truly a wasted moment.)
Don't get me wrong, I don't usually read these kinds of things into movies. I read one review of Goldmember on rottontomatoes.com that called it "a fun, but psychological mess, with Austin Powers bumping his head on the way out of the closet." And I totally could see their point, in fact, I thought that this paragraph in the review was brilliant:
"However, the real surprise is the unrelenting visual and verbal gay humor. Austin doesn’t lust after women; he does get tangled up in many sexual innuendos with men. One such sight gag suggests Austin is urinating into the mouth of an unconscious guard.
I understand the comedic tension that “gay-themed” humor elicits in the male audience, but the constant onslaught in AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER begs the point: Intentional comedy device or hidden agenda?"
However, when I saw the movie, I didn't see that in it at all. Red Dragon, on the other hand...