Blue Caprice

US | 2013 | Directed by Alexandre Moors

Logline: A lonely teenage boy finds himself befriended by an embittered man, who steadily embroils the boy in his own deadly contempt for humanity.

The so-called 2002 Beltway sniper attacks shocked America and ricocheted around the world. Nothing as brazen and as shocking had confused both the innocent and those who serve to protect them. Over three weeks across the States of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. ten people were murdered and three others critically injured. The victims were gunned down, at random, by a sniper with a high-powered rifle, along the interstate highway, in parking lots, and at gas stations.

The culprits were eventually caught; an African-American adult, John Allen Muhammad, and a seventeen-year-old ex-pat “orphan” from Jamaica named Lee Boyd Malvo. It was the boy who had been coerced into doing the shootings, mostly through a tiny hole drilled in the boot of a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice sedan. The pair was linked to another seven killings, and in 2003 Muhammad was executed and Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences.

Blue Caprice paints a dark and sombre portrait of their deadly drift.

This is a very impressive debut feature from Moors, working from a spare, but intelligent screenplay from the curiously named R.F.I. Porto, also on their debut feature. Blue Caprice is very much a mood piece, an oneiric study of manipulation and corruption, of loneliness and despair … but ultimately of a disquiet that burns like the Devil’s furnace.

Isaiah Washington is superb as Muhammad, pulling the brooding adolescent under his tortured wing and cultivating his confusion at the world. This is a nurturing of the darkest kind. Tequan Richmond as Lee doesn’t have many lines, but his screen presence is solid. Good support in bit roles from Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams, and Leo Fitzpatrick.

The sleeper stars of the movie are Brian O’Carroll’s slide reversal-esque cinematography, and the score from Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson, both of which enhance the movie’s elusive edge. This is a drama that seethes like a slow-burn thriller, but never explodes; hardly even boils, yet it resonates like the after-shock of an earthquake.

Knowing this actually happened is chilling. That while pushing your trolley at any shopping market parking lot, or casually filling up your car with petrol, you could be shot through the head by a sniper five-hundred metres away who’s been having a bad hair day. A really, really, really bad hair day.

Blue Caprice is the (dis)quiet achiever of the year. 

Blue Caprice is released in Australia through Eagle Entertainment on March 19.