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Review: ‘Blue Caprice’

Beltway Sniper Attacks Provide Basis For New Film

Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond star in

Credit: IFC

Above: Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond star in "Blue Caprice," inspired by the Beltway sniper killings.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "Blue Caprice."


The Beltway Sniper attacks that terrorized Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia in October of 2002 provide the basis for the new movie “Blue Caprice" (opens Oct. 4 at the Digital Gym Cinema).

The movie “Blue Caprice” opens with 911 calls and news footage of the Beltway Sniper attacks. The randomness and senselessness of the killings created a media frenzy as well as a pervasive sense of fear and chaos in the Capital Beltway area. But the film spends little time depicting the murders. Instead, it looks at what led to the violence. The first clue comes when John (Isaiah Washington) explains life to Lee (Tequan Richmond), an abandoned boy he takes under his wing and eventually turns into a killer.

John: "When I was your age I used to play a game called "Life is not fair." You know why I called it that? Because life is not fair, it sucks, but you gotta play."

John is someone who is dangerously discontent. He feels he’s been wronged by his estranged wife who has taken his kids away from him, by neighbors who testified against him and by a government that takes no notice of him. He has little hope for the future, which means he has nothing to lose. That’s a volatile combination that prompts his plan of action.

John: "A few bodies, well maybe more than a few bodies, maybe five or six a day for 30 days. Random targets. No, not random targets. If they think it's men, kill a woman. If they think it's women, kill a kid."

Washington and Richmond deliver fine, low-keyed performances as two people who bond after feeling very different kinds of rejection and isolation. Alexandre Moors makes a very assured writing and directing debut, guiding the film with a clear-eyed perspective on his characters and the disturbing dynamics of their relationship.

The film is less of a factual recounting of real events and more of a speculation on what might have gone on between these two people that could have led to what seemed to be such a senseless and random series of killings. Moors does not pass moral judgment nor does he try to offer pedestrian psychoanalysis. Instead, he lets us observe their lives and draw our own conclusions.

“Blue Caprice” (rated R for disturbing violent content, language and brief drug use) is a chilling, elegant and restrained contemplation of what can so deaden someone’s sense of humanity that he can become a serial killer.

View "Blue Caprice" trailer.

Companion viewing: "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," "Dexter" (Season 4 with John Lithgow), "Taxi Driver," "Badlands," "Man Bites Dog" and "I Saw the Devil."

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