‘Blue Caprice’ explores the psychological creation of a killer
Stephon Johnson | 9/12/2013, 2:20 p.m.
With America’s unhealthy obsession with well-known killers, you’d think that a story on the “D.C. snipers” would generate much more publicity. But as many Black comedians have joked ad naseum, once the media found out they were Black, all talk of them as “masterminds” ceased. But despite the lack of spotlight, the story is no less incredible, sickening and fascinating.
“Blue Caprice” examines the life of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo and the creation of a duo that would terrorize the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area for a month. Written and directed by Alexander Moors (the same man behind Kanye West’s much talked about but little seen film–unless you were at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival–“Cruel Summer”), the movie explores themes of abandonment, control, abuse and loneliness and how the combination can snowball into something scary.
Malvo (played fantastically by Tequan Richmond) is abandoned by his mother and left to fend for himself on the island of Antigua. Muhammad (played by Isaiah Washington) just happens to be on the island with his three children, and he eventually takes Malvo in after saving him from drowning. Muhammad, who actually kidnapped his kids, eventually loses them in a custody battle with his ex-wife and has a restraining order put on him. Malvo, without a parental figure in his life, finds one in Muhammad. With the two having no one left but each other (and misdirected anger), they embark on a journey that leads them down the rabbit hole to one month in 2002.
You hear about certain albums being labeled “mood music.” “Blue Caprice” is a “mood movie.” Mood pushes the story more than the dialogue, and for mood to push a plot, you have to have good actors. Richmond’s performance as a quiet, lonely kid looking for direction is wonderful to watch, and Washington’s performance seemed to come from a special place as well. One could credit writer-director Moors with coaxing these fantastic performances from the duo.
Malvo’s life trajectory looks to be the main focus of the film. “Blue Caprice” tells the story of Malvo looking for someone to hold on to, someone to call his own, someone to take care of him and finding it in a person who wanted nothing more than to control something after losing what he felt was everything in his wife and kids.
The film is a slow build, as Malvo doesn’t say much at the beginning. He’s hesitant to speak, but he listens, learns and picks up knowledge easily—any kind of knowledge, including the type that would eventually do him in.
“Blue Caprice” can be considered a treatise on the psychology of abuse. And while that might not sound appealing to some, it’s a fact that makes this film so compelling. It’s a must-see.