Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: Blue Caprice

Release date: September 13, 2013 (September 27 in DC area)
Running time: 93 minutes
Starring: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams
Who to see it with: Someone intrigued by haunting criminal portrayals


Blue Caprice looks at the men who, in 2002, committed a series of shootings ending with the Beltway sniper attacks. Rather than giving an exhaustive look at the details of the case, BC focuses on the father-son relationship that John Allen Muhammad (Washington) forms with minor Lee John Malvo (Richmond). The story begins in beautiful Antigua, where Muhammad simply seems like a kind man who takes in the neglected Malvo, but we soon learn that he has much darker intentions when they reach the States. The visuals and sound become darker along with the characters' behavior, the score especially contributing to the story's bleak mood.

The leads do a lot with somewhat sparse dialogue. Washington is chilling as he transitions from a seemingly upstanding member of the community into a killer, while Richmond often must express his emotions while silently brooding. The film does not get bogged down in details, instead briefly touching on Muhammad's motivations and the reasons why Malvo allows himself to be molded by him. This approach provides little information about Muhammad's background, but also makes the movie refreshingly free of clunky exposition. You see how he managed to seamlessly fit into a community while barely concealing his inner turmoil. Those looking for extensive details about the Beltway snipers may feel like something is missing, but Blue Caprice subtly depicts one of recent history's most interesting and disturbing father-son bonds.

See it.

I agree with Lee; there is a lot to like about Blue Caprice. The acting is top notch, the sound is phenomenal (both the musical cues and the chilling gun shots), and the cinematography is brilliant. However, I do wish director Alexandre Moors had explored Muhammad's motivations for the attack. Although the film was focused on the relationship between Muhammad and Malvo, it was tough to appreciate (or at least stay engaged in) that relationship when I was trying to understand why these attacks were happening. Muhammad's character changes rather abruptly and without notice, going from benevolent Antigua man to paramilitary trainer, and although there are hints as to why he is hoping to exact chaotic revenge against innocents, it was never fleshed out. Perhaps they just don't know why, but for a film that is only based on the events, it would have been nice to have a little creative freedom and exploration of that. 

Rent it.

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