Sundance Journal: ‘Blue Caprice’

Out of all the movies that I saw during Sundance this year, a little title called ‘Blue Caprice’ was the most affecting. There were other movies I liked more, but in terms of a film’s ability to elicit deep emotion, this one was tops.

‘Blue Caprice’ tells the story of the Washington D.C. sniper and the young boy who helped him. John Allen Muhammad terrorized the greater D.C. area in 2002 as he picked off random strangers with a sniper rifle, concealed in the trunk of his car. This movie isn’t about those horrific events. It’s about what led up to them.

Isaiah Washington gives a chilling performance. The movie shows how a man can allow darkness to take over his mind. Once that darkness finds a foothold, it stays. John Allen Muhammad was a tormented man. That’s no excuse for what he did, and the movie doesn’t try to explain away his evil nature. Instead, it shines a light onto how convincing he could be – particularly with poor Lee Boyd Malvo (Tequan Richmond), the young man caught and convicted along with Muhammad.

Because Muhammad found himself estranged from his children, he took Malvo in. Muhammad’s ex-wife had placed a restraining order on him, and he took solace in teaching a young orphaned boy. But his teachings were militaristic ramblings. He brainwashed the kid to think that killing innocent people was not only acceptable, but necessary.

Director Alexandre Moors does a superb job recreating the absolute dread that people felt during the short time Muhammad and his young apprentice terrorized our nation’s capitol, and the uncertainty that death could be waiting around any corner.

The movie also does a great job at diving inside the mind of a psychopath. Muhammad was a man who believed that what he did was warranted, a man who went so far down the rabbit hole that there was absolutely nothing left of him but a homicidal maniac.

I found the dark nature of ‘Blue Caprice’ both admirable and frightening. The way Muhammad molded a young mind into a murderous henchman was unfathomable. His corruption of that young mind is the scariest part of the movie.

‘Blue Caprice’ is a haunting film. It feels more real than just about any other movie I saw at the festival this year.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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