Blue Caprice

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Alexandre Moors’ film Blue Caprice is like a “father and son” drama, provided the father and son in question are John Allen Muhammad (or just “John” in the film, played by Isaiah Washington) and Lee Boyd Malvo (or just “Lee”, played by Tequan Richmond), the infamous Washington D.C. snipers of the October 2002 D.C. Beltway sniper attacks. This is a haunting, disturbing film about the lead-up and eventual initiation of the Beltway attacks.

The film begins in South America, when Lee’s mother leaves (presumably again, as the film implies) and John saves him from drowning. John takes him back to America and begins indoctrinating him with his skewed ideas about the necessity of his cause (that being random murder in an attempt to bring down the “system”). He teaches him how to use a gun, how to drive, how to survive, the fundamentals of being a sniper, and more.

Isaiah Washington is terrifying as John. His performance is somewhat bipolar, at times a father figure, other times a leader, and still other times an age-old portrayal of a misguided, idealist “revolutionary.” The chemistry between Washington and Richmond is phenomenal. They genuinely seem like a father and son, and that is one of the main reasons the film is so unsettling. Moments I felt as though John would make a good father, which were then shattered minutes later.

The music of the film was amazing. It added so much to the film. It guided the tone in many of the drawn-out sequences of driving. There was a wide array of deep bass sounds as well as what sounded like a contrabass clarinet, an instrument which can sound both terrifying and somewhat electronic, as it does in the film.

I remember the attacks, and the film’s portrayal of them brings back my memories of what was happening. To see a film take inspiration from that and show the lead-up from the perspective of the killers is by far one of the most intriguing takes on true-crime films, and this film does it as well as, I think, any film is capable. 5/5

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