Review: Blue Caprice


Director:Alexandre Moors

Cast:Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Tim Blake Nelson

Running Time:93 Minutes


Alexandre Moors has got some balls. He made, as a white man, a compelling and celebrated movie about the problem of fatherhood in the black community in America. Blue Caprice, his first feature film, explores this theme as well as the very nature of evil through the lens of a recent tragedy: the beltway sniper attacks of 2002.

The film is not a Flight 93 style emotional reenactment of a tragedy or a Zodiac-like thriller drawing on real life events to tell a gripping story of the detectives who brought the villains to justice. Blue Caprice instead is a psychological exploration of the nature of both personal and societal evil in the style of Dostoevsky (his Notes from the Underground was given to the stars as part of their background materials).

It stars Tequan Richmond as Lee Boyd Malvo, a young boy neglected by his single mother, and Isaiah Washington as John Allen Muhammad, the man who steps in as father figure. It charts their descent towards destruction in open ended movements. This subtlety is perhaps what lets Moors address highly sensitive material without much controversy (so far). Moors encourages the viewer to read into his film whatever he likes, with a cheeky smirk at anyone who would press him for direct answers. But the film is a success because it demands careful consideration of the nature of evil and the current social malaise.

Be warned: it's an exhausting movie. And it demands patience in a way that will torture you. Just when you think the pace has to start rising exponentially so we can get to some kind of resolution, when the drums will start pounding and things speed up to a more bearable level, Moors will take things back down to a slowness that mocks your desire to rush him. When I looked back at IMDB to note the running time, I could not believe that it was 93 minutes. I thought it was a typo and checked another site to make sure. This film feels a lot longer.

The cinematography employs typical tricks of "meaningful" filmmaking"”slow motion shaky cam sequences following the protagonists, shots that last 11 seconds longer than they would in another genre, less dialog than usual"”which, while not quite inventive, gets the job done.

The acting is truly amazing. Isaiah Washington is Oscar bait with this shit. For real. Tequan Richmond is a noteworthy young actor and hopefully this film will do great things for both their careers. Washington, a charismatic and funny guy in real life, captures the descent towards insanity of John Allen Muhammad perfectly. Just try and notice the things Washington chooses to do with his eyes in this movie. He can calibrate the degree of eye bulge he needs to show with pinpoint precision. Ridiculously talented.

Blue Caprice is a great on screen treatment of the psychology of evil. It speaks to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of young men whose desertion by their fathers has set them on a road to crime and violence and the way our government and society dooms these men to a cycle of the same problem.

It notes a trend in modern martial attitude. Does the interest in the sniper represent the glorification, not of the knight who charges into battle or of the gritty commander ordering his men to hold the line and brace for impact, but of the cold blooded killer from afar? Or is sniping a more empathetic mode of killing?

And is committing an evil act a matter of the will? Or simply the inescapable, determined outcome of geography and biology?

If you approach Blue Caprice with these questions in mind, this will be a highbrow film worth watching.

Also, be sure you don't get it mixed up with Blue Jasmine.


About Tim Wainwright


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