Where the sky is grey, the music is sad and no one says a word
For me the typical festival movie is one where the sky always is grey. You get plenty of time to study it because once in a while they turn up the camera and lock it on the moving clouds.
It’s slow. Or perhaps “subtle” is a nicer way to put it? In any case you need to fuel up with a bucket sized coffee in order to resist the reoccurring attacks of urgent sleepiness that you’re likely to encounter.
The music is quiet, sad and hesitating and consists of either a single violin or a piano.
The people in it don’t speak. They just stare out in the blue, thinking of something. What that “something” is remains a secret, as the meaning of the whole thing. We’re supposed to figure this out by ourselves. The vaguer it is the better. It gives the audience more interpretations to debate over as they’re waiting in the queue for the next festival film.
As a help for discussion there are symbols. Some of them are mandatory, such as the swim in the pool or the sea. Every character needs a bit of cleansing once in a while! And don’t forget to include an animal. Bird in the sky: freedom. Deserted, injured cub in need of help: the love the character always wanted but never got.
Touring the festivals
Blue Caprice has everything of this (well apart from the cub), and has consequently become very successful at the festival tour. According to IMDb it’s been travelling around the world since its premier at Sundance film festival in January. From US it went to France, then across the Atlantic again to Brazil, then Poland and now Sweden at Stockholm Film Festival. But it’s all been festival screenings. The question is: will it ever get a “normal” audience, like in a theatre? I’m not sure. I don’t think people outside of the festival circuit are as patient with subtle contemplation and interpretation of symbols. They don’t need a constant flow of action, that’s not what I’m saying. But they ask – rightly so – to be emotionally involved. They want to feel something fear, sorrow, joy, pity, excitement. And that’s not what they get here, which is a little bit strange considering the topic.
This film is based on a real event that took place in 2002, when ten people were murdered over the course of a few weeks in Washington DC, Maryland in Virginia. The attacks were performed by two men who picked their targets randomly and shot them. It sounds as a story that could be engaging regardless which perspective you’d pick: the one of the victims, of the assassinators or the cops that were trying to catch them. It turns out that this film chooses to entirely focus on the shooters. The problem is that it never makes any serious attempt to let us into their minds, to see what’s going on inside, why they became like this and what they’re feeling and thinking about it.
As the movie finished I knew barely anymore about the guys than I did when it started. Well, I know that one of them had a conflict with his ex over the custody of their children and the other one had been abandoned by his mother. That was it and it wasn’t enough for me chew on, not enough for me to start caring.
But if grey skies, people silently staring out through the window and slow, quiet music in the background tickles you somehow, this is probably a perfect fit.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I’ll give it as much as that it’s nicely crafted and there’s nothing wrong about the acting. Considering it’s the debut movie of the director, it’s not bad at all. I just hope the next project he does will contain a little bit more of… should I call it mojo? With that he could make a movie that would be energetic enough to keep you awake even if you haven’t had buckets of coffee on beforehand. And who knows, maybe he could take the step outside of the festival bubble?
Blue Caprice (Alexandre Moors, US 2013) My rating: 2,5/5
I watched this film at the Stockholm Film Festival in company with a few other Swedish film bloggers. Here’s what they made of the movie: